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Seeker’s Texas Death Metal Destroys Jacksonville

SEEKER – Concert Review

HappyJack is back and hoping all our friends had a great holiday season!

I have been busy pushing hours on my radio shows here in Jacksonville. And truthfully – I have been itching at the chance to see some metal bands. Lately it’s been pop music all around town – and only one rock station…

I got the call for SEEKER, a very powerful, rib-crunching, Texas death metal band whose new album, Unloved was released in late October to great worldwide reviews and found the band dubbed “Best new metal band to watch!” Having heard a sample of their offerings last year, I was excited to see they were coming to Jacksonville.

Victory Records just signed these guys and they are already opening for major acts; bands like White Chapel, Stray from the Path, and Impending Doom.

Remember Z Rock? An old Texas radio station that played only the best music in Metal back in the 80’s and 90’s? I miss those guys, those bands, those days from my youth. A time that was fresh and exciting. Texas has always been a hotbed for good guitarists and musicians. As a big fan of Texas death metal, I was excited to see SEEKER, a band that would deserve Z Rock airtime.

All the members were looking like they were focused on bringing a good show to Jacksonville, and they were very interactive with each other – a well-oiled machine. These guys really seem to gel so well for being together only a few years, and with new members.

Lead Singer Bryce Lucien was great on vocals, with screams louder than Rob Halford of Judas Priest. Bass player Chris Keasler was always jamming, pounding out solid rib-rattling chords throughout. Guitarist Justin Edgerton was strong, too, and offered up finger playing with that distinctive Texas style that had people rocking. The backbone of the band was Dustin Weaver, a maniac percussionist with a mission to conquer everyone in the room.

At this show, held at the old “Imperial Lounge,” now known around Jacksonville as “The Atticus Bar,” the band was an instant hit when the lights went out and they hit the stage. They carried themselves like a major act featuring bombastic sounds that fans hunger for, with catchy riffs, high energy, and screams that metal-heads love to hear.

The metalheads were in complete force, with 6 foot 6 guys wearing combat boots, just waiting for anyone to even act like they had a problem with them being there. Tattoos everywhere and crazy pircings, I saw half dollar wooden coins that the dudes had cut into their earlobes. An interesting crowd; all there to see their favorite new Death Metal Band, SEEKER!

SEEKER - Photo by Leon Jonjock
SEEKER – Photo by Leon Jonjock

They instantly had an active pit that circled the floors all night. Fans swinging their arms as wild and as fierce as they could; anyone in a 12 foot circle would get smashed. The pit was full of hot blooded dudes who were hell bent on pounding someone… anyone. The legs were kicking in the air, in the dark, in the light, all night long; definitely a very high energy crowd.

I had to dodge a few kicks that came my way, and just to be safe, cradled my expensive cameras close to my chest. As each song ended, everyone outside the pit was relieved – for a split second – then the next song started and grabbed you by the throat and demanded your complete attention.

We do not get enough good quality Metal music anymore – most bands sound redundant, and this was a welcome change. SEEKER, new metal Texas Hotshots have the goods and really put on a great show. I left the club very satisfied, with a few cool photos, and a killer new CD to jam to. When I get to practice these songs on my drums, it’s going to be so much fun.

I can’t wait till they come back through in a year or two – one really great show. I got my metal mojo a workin. Now, you need to grab the new CD; and bang your head all day.

Thanks to the band, management, Victory Records and Rarasfarm.com for making this possible.

I’ll be back with another cool concert review and exclusive photo shots soon – right here on RARASFARM.COM – the coolest music site on the planet. Until then, hang in there and stay warm, and grab the headphones!

HappyJack
Jacksonville
92.1FM

Midnight Reruns – Midnight Reruns (2013)

Midnight Reruns Album Review

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Midnight Reruns – Midnight Reruns (2013)
BrokenBirdie

This review was due weeks ago, and I feel like an ass for taking so much time with it.  One of my New Year’s resolutions was to try harder to see the silver lining in certain things, and the way that pertains to this situation is that this is a phenomenal record.

Hailing from the polarizing city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Midnight Reruns seem to have their stuff together in a big way.  The drums are solid, the guitar work is spot on and the singer’s voice is perfect for the songs.  I attempted to research the band members names because who doesn’t want to see their names in print?  Either they are content with Daft-Punk-esque self-imposed anonymity, or I am just screwing up.  The singer’s vocals border on snotty, and I find that to be a very endearing quality in a vocalist.  I don’t need snotty to the point where it sounds like they’re hacking something up, but if you want to sound like a brat occasionally, but can still carry a tune, I will listen to you sing for a long, long time, and often (case in point: I still listen to Broken Star by the Broadways, at least once a month, ten years after I first heard it).

(Editor: that would be Graham Hunt’s vocals, I know how to use this cool new tool, Google)

Starting with “Going Nowhere,” I’ll be honest, the sung melody makes me a little uncomfortable as it seems to recall something very specific from the late 90’s.  Probably Our Lady Peace, or something similar that was also on rock radio during that time.  After this song, “King of Pop” (which is probably my favorite on the entire album) starts off with a pretty little jangly guitar line, before bouncing into a hook-fueled romper, clocking in at just under four minutes.

“Grand Slam” drops the tempo to slow-dance proportions, and I actually played it at a house party in Jacksonville Beach a few days ago, shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Drunk couples grabbed their partners and danced (wobbled?) as illegal fireworks lit up the suburban street out front, the German Shepard stole a pork tenderloin from the grill, and the drunkest woman I’ve ever met had to ask which one was her husband so she could make out with him as she rang in the new year in her own special way.

“Summer Smoker” is an upbeat track that is guaranteed to get stuck in your head.  Once I memorize all the words, I will almost certainly sing it a cappella whilst doing future mundane tasks.

I apologize again for taking my sweet-assed time with this review.  Holidays are kind of insane, so I’m sure you understand.  If you like mostly mid-tempo rockers, with a whole lot of personality, and want to start your new year off on the right note, do yourself a huge favor and pickup the self-titled album by Midnight Reruns.  What’s up Milwaukee? Washington County? Waukesha? Dane? Door? Sauk? Portage? La Crosse?  I miss you guys, but I thank my lucky stars every morning that I wake up in beautiful Florida.

Happy 2014, y’all,

Broken_Birdie

Great White takes a bite out of Jacksonville!


Great White Concert Review

HappyJack is back with another RARA’s Farm concert review.

Minutes after finishing my afternoon radio show here in Jacksonville, I grabbed my gear and headed downtown to the Jacksonville Fair; where on this rain soaked evening, the band had a show to do; live in front of thousands of fair go-er’s. A nice way to branch your music to others of all music genres.

Great White in Jacksonville
Great White in Jacksonville. Photo: Leon Jonjock

Now, I was born here in Jacksonville back in the Kennedy era – and we have always had a festival or fair for as long as I can remember. And this big Southern town – home of many music superstars and hall of fame artists – knows how to throw a party!

And when they chose artists for the annual “Jacksonville Fair” they wanted the best musical artists – acts with songs always on the radio – songs we always hear and sing along to.  This year’s line-up featured Great White, a popular band on classic rock radio stations. This band has came a long way from the beginning. Founding member and lead guitarist extraordinaire, Mark Kendall, was a rock music fan from his early days – always jamming to rock legends – his vision of a cool band was evolving. After a few years and a few bands, he got a group that seemed to sound like what he really wanted and put together the band we all know today as Great White.

Back then, MTV promoted bands of rock n roll on T.V. , not this hip hop junk they show today.  And, this band had some catchy hooks and more than one hit song .

In Jacksonville in the misty rain, on a cool black night – the thunder was loud and wind was starting to swirl in all directions, a great setting for rock ‘n roll. I was standing in my normal stage position to get a few photos – stage right, on the floor, right in front of the artist. While adjusting my cameras, I felt a chill in my bones, like something out of the normal was going to happen. Then with all the wind blowing and amplifiers humming, lighting bolts flashed across the Jacksonville skies, and we heard the first ominous notes from Jaws. With a powerful build up, the lights came up to a very energetic and happy to be here in Jacksonville band: Great White.

From the moment they came onstage, they smiled with everyone, and to each other. The guitars sounded crisp and the bass was super-smooth; the drums steady and loud! And then the guys from Great White:

  • Terry Ilous: Vocals, Background Vocals, very nice guy , happy to see us
  • Mark Kendall: Lead Guitars, Background Vocals,- Sunglasses at night – maniac guitarist
  • Michael Lardie: Guitar, Keyboards, Background Vocals, smiles and Harmonica
  • Audie Desbrow: Drums, Percussion, lots of energy and big sticks
  • Scott Snyder – Bass,Background Vocals, and a bass playing style that reminds me of Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx

Read Cretin’s Interview with the band here: Great White Interview

They had the crowd dancing and singing to every song.  Then when vocalist Ilous spoke to the Jacksonville crowd, the hometown fans came alive, swinging their fists, (and beer cans) to the band in perfect timing.

He was a very good singer with a voice that sounded like a seasoned veteran. He stopped between songs to tell the story line of the band and little gems of knowledge – which we all love to hear. Then every song they played was like they were playing in front of 12,000 screaming fans acting like they were fresh out the box instead of seasoned veterans like they are.

High energy, non-stop smiles, lots of hit songs. One highlight was their newest hit , an Ilous penned balled – “Hard to Say Goodbye.” It was top ten chart material and left the crowd with their lighters in the air. Then Kendall played solo that had the crowd jumping. The fingers were fast and the effect he had was cool and hot at the same time.

Great White in Jacksonville
Great White’s Mark Kendall in Jacksonville. Photo: Leon Jonjock

The band played an hour and a half to a very receptive Jacksonville crowd. Took their bows and exited the stage. I just wondered how they timed the lighting flashes in our Southern skies at the same time their biggest hits were being played? This show will be another great show in my rock and roll lifetime of memories. With cool night time visual effects you can’t buy – lighting flashes, wind gusts and total bliss  – what a show!

While getting my gear together to meet the band backstage I could overhear fans saying that the new singer was better than Jack Russell, their former front-man. And that this new guy is a great addition to the band; my thoughts exactly.

Backstage, my assistant, Kathleen and I took a few minutes to talk to the band. I first said “hello” to Micheal Lardie , a guy who gets second looks, because he looks a bit like Jack Russell, Nice guy, he mentioned that they are working with Vince Neil and making plans for other tour dates, including the Monsters of Rock Cruise.

Then we spoke to Terry Ilous and he was also refreshing to talk to. He came over and spoke to us a few times.  While speaking to him and listening to his visions of the future, the band, the ups and downs, the humbleness, the family man he is, the positive attitude the band has with each other – made me feel like I was his friend; and damn it, I am. I felt his compassion for this industry that seems to fade each year with the new crop of hip hoppers and glorified gang banger’s who steal the fans away to another culture; music with no value, just programmed beats and no guitars.

He was soft spoken, and charismatic, preaching that life is one moment at a time – take your time and learn from it. He was cool to chat with, not brushing us aside, and really wanted YOU FANS to know – Great White is back!

These guys have their heads on straight and their appreciation for their fans was not a put on. When they come to Jacksonville, we’ll all be back to see them jam! So, when they come to your town – go see a band that gives back to the fans 100%.

Great White – We all were bitten in Jacksonville!

Thanks again to RARAs Farm for supporting the Florida rock scene, the great Southern town of Jacksonville Florida, The Jacksonville Fair, Management of Great White, and especially new vocalist Terry Ilous , and the band “Great White”.

Thank God for California Rock!

(Like Us on Facebook, or check there soon for more photos from the show.)

Until next show…

HappyJack
WJXR 92.1FM
Rarasfarm.com


Holley Maher – Euphorics – Review


 

Holley Maher Album Review

 

holley maher euphorics
holley maher euphorics

Holley Maher – Euphorics Album Review
Follow @rarasfarm

I wasn’t even halfway through the second song, “Golden”, before I started to question the title of Holley Maher’s new EP, Euphorics.  The music is undeniably pleasurable, but more-so for whom?  Her or us?  You can hear it in her voice that she is in control and enjoying herself throughout every moment of these songs.  Light-hearted and sincere, you can hear her smile as she sings and it adds a fun, personal dimension to her music that is often attempted, but seldom executed with such grace.

Generally composed of a piano, acoustic guitar, drums and strings, the music is simple but charming.  Her sing-song  vocals on “Hiding Place” are certain to get stuck in your head and the strings add that movie soundtrack quality, making it perfect headphone music for long, solitary walks. The last track, “Whispered Words”, hints at elements of the electronic, which I think would be a fantastic direction for Maher to explore in the future.

My only complaint is the dual vocals on “I Do”.  Holley’s voice is strong enough to stand on its own, and the male vocals sound a little too close to something that’s heard on a contemporary, easy-listening stations.  The guy has a good voice; I just think that it takes the song somewhere that doesn’t necessarily mesh with the rest of the EP.

On a recent trip through Nashville it became clear that there is a lot more going on in Nashville than just country music.  Maher, who is based in Nashville, seems to have the talent to take her musical career in any direction she chooses.  Country radio, pop radio, or a darling of the indie scene, Holley Maher and her songs could take any one of them by storm.  Her attention, however, is split between her music, dance, graphic design, photography and fashion, so after learning that, it’s not a surprise that, for now, we have to settle for these five beautiful songs, and two previous EPs.  It is my own selfish wish that she chooses to focus more on music in the future, and maybe my wish will come true as I believe that “Golden” should be in heavy radio rotation.  She has a bright future in whichever endeavors she pursues.

– Broken Birdie –

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The Drowning Men’s Nato Bardeen Interview

GTR Store

Nato Bardeen is the talented front man and distinctive voice of The Drowning Men, one of today’s best new bands.  I recently had a chance to catch up with him from his hometown of Oceanside, CA before the band embarks on the next leg of their tour supporting their new release All of the Unknown.

Cretin: Being from Oceanside, California, what’s the local music scene?

Bardeen: We beat the hell out of San Diego for the first three years. Played all the local bars and small clubs and did that for a bit before we started touring. We were just a local band, then we got to LA and played the Long Beach area, then the Northwest thing, Portland and Seattle and the West Coast. As for the scene, I don’t really know what the scene was; we just do what we do and go out and do our thing.

Cretin: Today’s rock is dominated by one man bands, where it’s a talented singer on keyboards and a drum machine, playing cute poppy rock – you guys have taken a different approach?

Bardeen: I’m a fan, but not a big fan, of the two piece band thing. I like a big band and that full sound. I’ve known (Rory) and (Todd) since we were kids and we’ve played together for years, and I’ve always liked bands with four or five guys.

Cretin: It makes a difference both live and on the album. You can tell that it’s a collaborative group effort, not just dominated by one person (Bardeen writes all of the music).

Bardeen: I’ll write the song and bring it to the boys and throw out hints. I’m more of a melody guy, I’m not really good with drums or bass. I kind of let them figure it out on their own.  We’ve played together so long, I already know what Rory’s going to do without even telling him. I just know the way he plays. The same thing with Todd and just us as a band. I pretty much know what everyone is capable of and their unique touch on the songs. James (guitar) and Gabe (keyboards) and I discuss the melodies and harmonies.

Cretin: When I saw the band live, it seemed like the pieces  fit together extremely well, and Rory on drums just seems to accompany you perfectly.

Bardeen: Honestly, in the last four months, I realized how Rory and I complement each other. His drum playing is straight in the pocket, really loud and it just fits our music perfectly. I really agree with you, he and I have something cool together.

Cretin: Going into the show, knowing that you wrote all of the music, I didn’t really expect to see the five of you so tight. But you guys seem so cohesive.  Kind of sucks that the Orlando crowd didn’t really show up, though.

Bardeen: We’re still young. We’re a young travelling band. We don’t expect much.  We’ve toured with some great bands and traveled nationally and opened up in front of thousands of people, but we know we’re young. We haven’t won that many people over yet, and hopefully we will. If not, we don’t and that’s just how it goes. But, it would be nice to go out and play our own shows outside of Southern California and get some really cool crowds.

Cretin: Tell me about the second leg of the tour that you’re about to embark on?

Bardeen: We’re main support for Cheap Girls for a short leg. After that we’ll be doing main support for Bad Books II which is the side project for a few of the guys from Manchester Orchestra. (As of this time, there are no dates in Florida)

Cretin: Last year you supported Flogging Molly. You ended up being one of the fist bands they signed to their new label Borstal Beat Records. What was that experience like?

Bardeen: When we did that tour, it was our first legit national tour as an opening act playing in front of thousands of people. They were rad. They fell in love with us; liked our live sound and our music, and had our Beheading of the Songbird album and they loved it. We knew they were putting out their own label and on tour we started talking about signing with them. We were like “Yeah,” and it worked out great.

Cretin: Let me ask a question back to Beheading of the Songbird, and the title track which I feel is just a great song.  On your recent co-headlining tour, you didn’t play it. Is there any reason?

Bardeen: We played it more than a handful of times earlier on tour. We love it and I’ve actually been thinking about bringing it back into the set, so it’s not dead. We really like playing it, but it is a real long song and in a 30 or 45 minute set it cuts into what we can do.

Cretin: Any backlash due to the nature of the lyrics?

Bardeen: No. We just had other newer songs that we’ve been working on and are excited to play. We’ve been playing those Songbird songs for a long time now.

Cretin: So, how has the reception been for the new songs?

Bardeen: Good, really good.  Some songs people like more than others, which is totally natural. Some people miss some of the old stuff which is something we need to deal with. We need to put together a good set, try to create a cool mood or weird mood or whatever mood we’re trying to put out. But the response for the new stuff has been surprisingly cool.

Cretin: Who were some of your influences?

Bardeen: I was a lifetime Smiths fan. Ever since I first heard Morrissey and The Smiths in Junior High School. (Their music) just hit me and I’ve always been a fan. I’m also a huge  fan of Tom Waits, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Leonard Cohen and The Pogues. I like the moody crooners.

Cretin: Some dark stuff there, and definitely some great songwriters.

Bardeen: That’s what makes me move and that’s the music I like to listen to. I think the lyrics are beautiful, the lyrics fit with the music, the music fits with the lyrics, the melody, the vocals. It’s the perfect fit for me. Those guys do it well, My goal is to always make it fit and whether I do that or not I’ll never really know, but that is my ultimate goal; to make the melody, the vocals and the strain of the vocals fit the strain of the guitar, so everything is one piece that works.

Cretin: That’s cool. So, let me ask a bit about your background.  The night I saw you, you played guitar, keyboards, mandolin, melodica and sang lead vocals on every song.  What’s your musical background?

Bardeen: I would say I’m unschooled. I picked up a guitar when I was eighteen and I picked it up pretty fast.  I loved it and it immediately became my passion.  I also have a huge love for traditional Irish Folk music, and that made me want to learn the mandolin, the fife and banjo and a bunch of other things. Right now, I can get by on 14 or 15 different instruments, anything like the piano, mandolin, suzuki, banjo – anything with strings pretty much. I love to learn new instruments, I love playing them, I love writing on them, I love just jamming out with people to different styles. I started at eighteen and lord willing I can do it the rest of my life, and hopefully when I die I’ll be able to play one hundred.

Cretin: On All of the Unknown, it seems as though you’ve taken your vocals to a new level from where they were on Beheading of the Songbird.  Have you seen yourself grow as a vocalist?

Bardeen: I have, and I’m loving it.  When we did the Beheading album, we weren’t playing out as much, but after touring more and more and singing every night, I was really hurting my voice, so I had to learn how to sing better. On the Beheading album, I was yelling.  I still yell now, but I’ve learned how to yell better. And, I’m enjoying it because I’ve always wanted to be a better singer. I always want to sing with passion, but I’m learning to control my breath a little bit more both live and on track.

Cretin: It’s nice getting to listen to that evolution.

Bardeen: I’ve definitely noticed the maturity in my vocals and I’m very excited about it.  I’ve never been confident about my vocals.  I know I can sing, I just had to work on it, do breathing exercises and learn how to control it. I’ve been happy with it. I hope I can always sing and I look forward to twenty years from now what I sound like.

The Drowning Men Tour Dates

Gaslight Anthem’s Handwritten Album Review

New Jersey rockers, The Gaslight Anthem are back with their fourth studio album, Handwritten.  The quartet out of New Brunswick have continuously evolved their sound, and continue to grow musically on this, their fourth album.

They’re often compared to that famous Garden State rocker from Asbury Park, and lead singer Brian Fallon admits the influence that Springsteen has had on his career.  But, these guys are not Springsteen clones, not by any far stretch of your imagination. Their sound reminds me much more of Paul Westerberg and The Replacements, or possibly a less punkified version of Against Me! They’ve got an edgy garage rock sound with catchy lyrics and memorable riffs.  It’s straight forward American rock and roll.

The first single off of the album, “45,” has enjoyed tremendous success on Alt-Rock radio. It’s the first cut off of Handwritten, and a great way to kick off the album, as Fallon sings about a long relationship that has run its course: “Turn the record over… I’ll see you on the flip side… Let her go, let somebody else lay at her feet.”  

The remainder of the album is filled with decent songs, but it’s not that special album we’ve come to expect from the band. Handwritten is the band’s first album on Mercury Records, after an amicable split with the typically less polished sound on Side One Dummy Records.  The result is an album with more personal lyrics, but one that is also missing some of the sharp edges we’re used to from Gaslight Anthem; in effect, we see a trade-off of musical passion for lyrical passion.

Make no mistake, it;s still a good album, and better than most of the stuff on the market, but it’s a step back from the previous efforts on The ’59 Sound and American Slang.  There is some good diversity here from the soulful classic rock sound of “Too Much Blood” and “Haul” and the powerful pop sound of “Desire” to the haunting closer “American Anthem” which highlights a tender side to Fallon’s voice, and is my favorite track on the album.

Check it out below and sample each of the songs, there’s definitely something for every rock fan from the new sound of New Jersey.

Rock On!
Cretin

GTR Store

River City Extension Rocks Orlando

River City Extension LiveRiver City Extension Live at The Social

Earlier this week, I had one of those moments that all rock music fans covet. I was out at a venue reviewing one band and stumbled across another act on the bill that really caught my attention. I was out at The Social in Orlando checking out The Drowning Men, who were great in their own right (see the review here) when I had the pleasure of catching the dynamic eight piece River City Extension.

The octet out of New Jersey crammed onto the small stage and delivered an energetic and diverse set that I would best classify as a creative merging of Mumford and Sons and Gogol Bordello! It might sound unusual, but they pull it off magnificently. Over the course of the night, the six men and two women traded off among fifteen different instruments, providing quite the aural feast. At different times, they featured two drummers, two banjo players, violin, trumpet, mandolin and more; a welcome diversion from much of the cookie cutter stuff dominating the airwaves these days.

Led by front man Joe Michelini, the band focused their set on music from their excellent new release Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Your Anger. I spoke to Michelini briefly after the set and asked him how he would classify their brand of rock.   There’s no easy classification, which is part of the beauty to their unique sound. We settled on Alt-Americana, but you can check out the link below and make your own judgment.

They kicked off the show with “Glastonbury,” the opening track off of the album and followed that up with nine other cuts from the new album as well as a few selections from their two prior releases.

“Welcome to Pittsburgh” was an early highlight. The track has a beautiful, optimistic feel to it, as Michelini shows off his broad vocal range.  The most impressive features of the song were Nicole Scorsone on violin and Dan Melius on trumpet! The violin absolutely powers the song and Melius also contributes some fantastic trumpet work.  Good stuff!

“Point of Surrender” and “Ballad of Oregon” were two other songs of the same vein that were crowd-pleasing favorites.

This band is quite diverse and they showed off their versatility all night. Other highlights included “Slander,” a poignant tune in the vein of classic rock, “Our New Intelligence” a nice boy/girl duet, and the stark “Standing Outside in a Southern Riot” which featured Michelini and vocalist Samantha Tacon alone on stage.

It was a great introduction to a talented band that we should be hearing much more from in the years ahead.

Rock On – Cretin

Setlist

Glastonbury
There & Back Again
Welcome To Pittsburgh
Our New Intelligence
Point of Surrender
Standing Outside a Southern Riot
If You Need Me Back In Brooklyn
Slander
Nautical Sabbatical
Ballad of Oregon
Everything West of Home
Something Salty, Something Sweet

Moon Tunes – The Best Rock and Roll Moon songs

The Best Rock ‘n Roll Moon Songs
Our list of “Moon” Songs that rock

In honor of the extremely rare full lunar eclipse yesterday, I decided to throw together a list of the RARA’s Farm’s Best Rock ‘n Roll moon songs.  The rules? Pretty simple stuff – it needs to rock, the word “moon” needs to be in each song title, and I have to like it.

Continue reading Moon Tunes – The Best Rock and Roll Moon songs