Big Something has begun to earn their place on the festival circuit and become a household name for fans of groovy rock meets jam band music. I recently had the opportunity to discuss Big Something’s upcoming tour with the group’s frontman Nick MacDaniels. He explained the group’s unique sound and filled us in on what Big Something has in store for the future. Check out what he had to say about inspiration, touring, and the future of Big Something.
Pink Talking Fish Interview
Pink Talking Fish is one of the more unique rock bands touring the planet these days, and we recently caught up with one of the band founders, Eric Gould to chat about their unique spin on rock ‘n roll.
Continue reading Get To Know Pink Talking Fish
Vinyl Kicks EP Review
The Vinyl Kicks came out with their first EP less than a year ago and fans will be happy to hear that a new release is on the horizon. Their first EP, Almost Young, established The Vinyl Kicks as a band and is still experiencing growing success. However, where Almost Young was good, the band’s upcoming EP, Ambitions Don’t Age Well is great. Listeners will be pleased to hear growth in the band lyrically, vocally, and instrumentally.
The quintet is comprised of Adam Cohen on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Justin Andrews on bass and backup vocals, Hope Finlayson on keys, Sean Acosta on lead guitar, and Jason Davis on drums and backup vocals. A band with so many elements is not easy to manage but the Florida natives, all under the age of twenty three, have great synchronicity, especially on the upcoming EP.
Instrumentally, the EP sounds somewhat reminiscent of Pink Floyd, or rather what I imagine Pink Floyd would sound like if they were born forty years later. Similar to Pink Floyd, The Vinyl Kicks are experimental, they’re groovy, but most of all they’re not afraid to be themselves. Where a lot of current bands are afraid of extended instrumental intros, The Vinyl Kicks tip their hat to Pink Floyd and let their intros take their time, building up sweet anticipation and letting each song unfold as it was meant to.
However, it’s not fair to only compare The Vinyl Kicks to Pink Floyd instrumentally, because they also sound like a lot of other things. At times the EP sounds a lot more like The Strokes than Pink Floyd, yet at other times it can best be compared to The Killers. The band has fused new and old really well on the upcoming EP. They remind me of bands from forty years ago, while simultaneously sounding like current bands. The band seems to have used forty years’ worth of albums as their textbooks and it’s clear they’ve been studying because Ambitions Don’t Age Well sounds like a collection of the best parts of indie rock over the last half decade.
The vocals on the EP are just as good as the instrumentals and I love them for the same reason that I love the instrumentals. They are what they are, and while they may take notes from some of the big names that came before them, at the end of it all they put their own spin on everything they do. At times, the vocals remind me a little of Pink Floyd, The Black Keys and Kings of Leon. Yet, to be honest the vocals on the EP don’t sound enough like the vocals from any of the aforementioned artists to be directly compared to alone. After I listened to the EP for days trying to figure out just who the vocals remind me of, I finally came to the conclusion that while The Vinyl Kicks sound a little like a lot of things, they really only sound like the Vinyl Kicks and their upcoming album is proof of this.
If you didn’t know that Adam Cohen, the lead vocalist had a hand in writing the lyrics, you’d figure it out just by listening to him sing. He has one of those voices that is emotionally in sync with each song and its lyrics. While Cohen has a cool, silky voice through most of the songs, there are parts of the album, like the chorus on “Broaden the Odds,” where he showcases a more raspy tone as he breaks into a yell. This works great for the EP, it’s just one of the subtleties that sets The Vinyl Kicks apart from other bands with a similar sound.
Lyrically, the EP is very poetic. It’s full of songs that show instead of telling. By that I mean that instead of coming right out and saying what they mean, The Vinyl Kicks paint the listener a picture and let the listener feel how they feel. One of my favorite lines is found at the beginning of “Broaden the Odds,” “slow she goes, slow she goes, tie me up some tangled souls.” Lines like this abound throughout the EP and paint abstract art in the listener’s mind. Ambitions Don’t Age Well features powerful enough lyrics that each song could be read in a monotone voice at a poetry event and it would still go over well.
All in all, The Vinyl Kicks have created something truly great on Ambitions Don’t Age Well. Everything about the EP just works – it’s everything their last EP was but better. Whether you’re a fan of the indie rock classics or the genre’s modern day hits, you’ll love Ambitions Don’t Age Well. Do yourself a favor and pick it up when it’s released on iTunes, May 15th of this year; you won’t be disappointed.
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Brit Floyd Show Review
So here I go again attending another cover band on Sunday night. I guess since I really can’t afford the prices of the real band, cover band it is. Brit Floyd (Pink Floyd cover) played on Sunday at Hard Rock Live in Orlando. This was a new venue for Brit Floyd because they had never played at the Hard Rock. The crowd of about 2000 people were treated to a musical and visual smorgasbord that showcased the band’s professional and musical talents.
The talented band consisted of Damian Darlington (Musical director, guitar, lapsteel and vocals), Ian Cattell (Bass guitar, vocals) , Bobby Harrison (guitar, vocals), Rob Stringer (Keyboards, vocals), Rick Benbow (Keyboard), Arran Ahmun (Drums), Carl Brunsdon (Saxophone, bass, percussion, clarinet, keyboard), Emily Jolland, Jacquie Williams and Rosalee O’Connell (Vocals).
This Brit Floyd concert, was more of a rock show than just music. Granted, the music sounded incredible, but the stage show with lights, lasers, video and choreographed movement by everyone was really a spectacle for all senses.
The show opened with “In the Flesh” with Carl Brunsdon alone on stage with a clarinet which then exploded into the full spectacle of the song. It showed the audience what they were going to experience over the remainder of the set. With Pink Floyd, there are so many great songs to choose from and this band did a great job of playing all the best from across their entire catalog. When the band changed from one album to another, we viewed a video of a child going through different albums and picking out the one in which the songs were being played from – a cool touch.
As expected, “Money,” “Mother,” “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb,” received the biggest pop from the crowd and the encore of “Run like Hell” was a great finish to a great show.
I walked into the Hard Rock with minimal expectations and 2 1/2 hours later, walked out thinking, I am glad I was here…
In the Flesh?
The Thin Ice
Another Brick in the Wall Part 1
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
Welcome to the Machine
Us and Them
Any Colour You Like
Pigs on the Wing Part 1
Take It Back
Coming Back to Life
The Great Gig in the Sky
Wish You Were Here
One of These Days
Run Like Hell
Classic Rock iPod Selections
Rock ‘n Roll has been around for 50 years, for thousands of bands and millions of songs. Therefore it’s totally understandable that a few great classic rock tunes have slipped through the cracks and somehow eluded your iPod. Have no fear – I’ve started up an occasional article focused on a few of these classics that belong on the iPod of every rock fan.
Here’s a six pack of tracks for your Spring sampler:
Stranglehold – Ted Nugent – This one is purely and simply an amazing rock song. Eight minutes and 22 seconds of fantastic guitar licks and kick ass vocals. We caught The Nuge performing it live last year, and this one stands the test of time, still a great track today.
The Story In Your Eyes – The Moody Blues – These guys have been rocking themselves for nearly fifty years, and still tour today. This classic off of their Every Good Boy Deserves Favour album is one of their greatest rock tracks, and a song that never received proper recognition.
Subdivisions – Rush – This was the first of many synth heavy hits for these Canadian icons, and they definitely made the transition masterfully. Check it out for yourself when they visit The Amway Center on April 28th.
Change Your Mind – Sister Hazel – These boys from Gainesville tore it up at the turn of the century, and this one was their best. It’s a great song. and the perfect rock and roll singalong.
Police On My Back – The Clash -From the band’s royalty-free triple-album Sandanista, this is one of the band’s best cuts. This one features Steve Jones on lead vocals, and is surprisingly a cover of an Eddy Grant song – yes, that Eddy Grant!
Free Four – Pink Floyd – Released just before Dark Side of the Moon, this one is totally different. It’s the equivalent of a Roger Waters meets The Monkees kind of groove. A fun little ditty…
SO, how many are on your iPod? Check the others out and download the ones you need to shape up your iPod. Also, let me know which classic rock treasures you think need to be in our next six pack.
It was 25 years ago today…
I just realized that it was 25 years ago that The Simpsons first graced our television screens, then got to wondering what was the music we were listening to back in Bart’s nascent years. As it turns out, it was a damn good year.
(You can click on the title of each selection to sample it on iTunes)
Here’s our RARA’s Farm Top Dozen in reverse order:
12. Whitesnake – Whitesnake – Usually a band eponymously names their first album. For some reason, David Coverdale decided to do it on Whitesnake’s seventh. Who am I to argue? This one was the best of the bunch, and the band’s biggest commercial success. Coverdale’s signature vocals soared on “Here I Go Again,” “Still of the Night” and “Is This Love.” Tawny Kitaen writhing on the hood of the car in the “Here I Go Again” video was a nice bonus.
11. A Momentary Lapse of Reason – Pink Floyd – This was really more of a David Gilmour solo album, and the absence of Roger Waters was definitely noticeable. Waters basically said the album sucked, and it was not great by Floyd standards, but “Learning To Fly” and “On the Turning Away” are great tracks. Still some excellent Gilmour guitar throughout no matter what Roger says…
10. Document – R.E.M. – These guys were on top of their game at this point in the 80’s, where everything they produced sounded great as Stipe and crew constantly evolved. “It’s the End of the World…” and “The One I Love” got all of the airplay. “Welcome to the Occupation” and “Finest Worksong” were better.
9. Permanent Vacation – Aerosmith – RUN DMC breathed some air into their deflated sails, but this release from the boys from Boston is what truly welcomed them back into the rock spotlight. Some HUGE hits on this one: “Angel,” “Dude Looks Like a Lady” and “Rag Doll.”
8. One Way Home – The Hooters – Yup, I was frequenting the Philly rock bars in 1987, but that had nothing to do with this selection; it’s just a damn good album. Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian wrote well together and paired their vocals fantastically. And our favorite drummer, David Uosikkinen was at the top of his game. “Satellite,” “Johnny B” and “Fighting on the Same Side” were brilliant.
7. Floodland – Sisters of Mercy – Speaking of Philly, does anyone remember The Club Revival? These guys were mainstays at the after hours haunts of the 80’s equivalent of emo (folks like me). This is dark, driving dance rock, featuring “Dominion/Mother Russia,” “Lucretia My Reflection” and the amazing “This Corrosion.” Hey now, hey now now…
6. Diesel and Dust – Midnight Oil – Spinning records in a former life at a mythical place named the Jersey Shore, an Aussie walked in during INXS and told me I need to hear Midnight Oil. He was right and they were the real deal. With “Beds Are Burning,” “The Dead Heart” and “Dreamworld” they caught the attention of lots of ears on this continent.
These Top Five are in a separate class from the first seven on the list.
5. Hysteria – Def Leppard – With Hysteria, the guys from England made a roaring return to the rock music scene after taking a n unexpected hiatus following Rick Allen’s accident that cost him his left arm. They didn’t miss a beeat with this hit album which featured “Animal,” “Rocket,” “Love Bites” and the anthemic “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”
4. Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses -The first was this masterpiece debut from Axl and Slash. I’m sure some of you have this closer to the top, but the album was basically half a dozen great songs and half a dozen mediocre. Always loved “My Michelle,” but this one is all about “Paradise City,” “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “Welcome to the Jungle.”
3. Strangeways, Here We Come – The Smiths – Morrissey is a genius, and on this one, may be just a tad less uber-depressing than The Smiths’ other offerings. “Unhappy Birthday,” “Girlfriend in a Coma” and “A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours” only scratch the surface of this deep album. So, step off that ledge and dig into some joyful “Death of a Disco Dancer.”
2. Kick – INXS – Atlantic Records reportedly hated the album and begged the band to can it and start over. Lesson #857 on why we need less record company intervention and more independence for rock musicians. These Aussies had a bunch of good albums, but this was their best and most diverse offering. “Devil Inside,” New Sensation” and Need You Tonight” were huge hits. “Mystify” was the best of the bunch, though, on an album where every song is great.
1. The Joshua Tree – U2 – This one is in The 25 Albums of All-Time, and in my opinion somewhere near the top of the list. “Red Hill Mining Town,” Trip Through Your Wires” and One Tree Hill” are absolutely amazing, and there’s not a soft cut on the album which is woven together perfectly. You amy also have heard of “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “With or Without You.” Pure Genius!
Let me know what you think by adding a comment below, and click the linked album titles to sample this great stuff on iTunes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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!
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.
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…
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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’.”
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.
Green Day – American Idiot – Dookie 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…