Sunday, July 20, 2014

Will There Ever Be a New Wave of Hard Rock?

I have been searching out new music that has in-your-face guitars, melodic vocals, good musicianship and is just a little over-the-top. Pretty much, 80's-style hard rock. I'm not talking about hair/glam/pop metal. Though I'm not dismissing that either. I'm talking about the hard rock that dominated the 80's with such acts as AC/DC, Scorpions, Motley Crue, the Cult, Guns 'N Roses, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Cinderella, etc.

There is some good stuff out there. And I have a theory as to why: Now is the first generation of musicians that have 80's hard rock as an influence. They are far enough removed from the atrocities that became of hard rock in general and hair metal specifically to be able to connect with the quality stuff that did exist. Also, they had parents who grew up with this music. And they have probably played with older musicians who played this type of music. It all rubs off.

I doubt there will ever be a new wave of hard rock, but for those of us that enjoy fun, loud guitar-driven rock, there is hope.

The members of Australia's Koritni, named after lead vocalist Lex Koritni (and let's just get this out of the way: horrible name) make no bones about naming Motley Crue, GnR, RHCP among others as influences. Listening to their most recent studio album Welcome to the Crossroads, the influences can't be denied. You can hear the Cult, Aerosmith, Tesla and the funk of RHCP or maybe more accurately, Extreme.

Million Dollar Reload, hailing from Northern Ireland, have definitely taken hold of the dirtier, sleazier side of the 80's rock scene. Reminiscent of Faster Pussycat, early GnR, L.A. Guns, but also holding onto an Aerosmith and AC/DC vibe. M$R knows how to write a hook as evidenced by songs such as "Wicked" and "Tatoos and Dirty Girls".

Unfortunately, I don't see this type of music taking hold in the United States anytime soon. But as long as there are thriving rock and metal communities in Europe and Australia, then we can at least get our hands on it.

Both of these bands bring the old sensibilities while not sounding dated, in my opinion. Judge for yourself.

Koritni on Amazon.

Million Dollar Reload on Amazon.

TheCheapSeats on Twitter.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good Song, Bad Video: Def Leppard: Foolin'

Def Leppard's Pyromania still stands as one of the best hard rock albums ever made. I don't know if there was really a bad song on the entire record. And Def Leppard came along at just the right time to take advantage of MTV becoming, for all intents and purposes, the world's biggest radio station.

Back in the days when Rick Allen was not the one-armed wonder and Phil Collen still owned shirts, Def Leppard graced us with one of the cheesiest videos ever with "Foolin'".

While this is mostly a performance video set on a cheap soundstage, this video gets high cheese marks for the inane, disjointed imagery interspersed throughout.

It starts off, for no apparent reason, with some strange harp player engulfed in flames. This harp player returns a couple of times throughout the video, again for no apparent reason.

When we move on to the pre-chorus, Joe Elliott is strapped to what appears to be some triangular shaped torture device. It's a recurring theme in the video. But the torture aspect is lost on me. Unless, of course, we count the torture of having to endure this.

The second verse introduces us to some sorceress witch-like character who apparently through her crystal ball is the one behind Elliot on the triangular torture device. Or maybe she is the one who sets Joe free. We never see her again.

Then there's just cheesy explosions following Joe Elliot through a poorly constructed narrow hallway of sorts.

Oh, then we have the band rising out of some pit with angel of death and skull imagery. That is just SO Def Leppard.

It's a great song from a great band and I probably spent way more time deconstructing this video than what was put into crafting it. Judge for yourself.

All in all, good fun. Back in the day it made for good video viewing. Now it makes for good fodder.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Texas Rangers at the All-Star Break: It's Not Pretty

Yes, I included "my" in the title of this post. I've been through a lot as a fan of the Texas Rangers over the years. Yes, this is bad right now. Losing 9 of the last 10 and 22 of the last 25, there are no
two ways about it, they are pitiful right now. Firmly in last place of the AL West, behind (gasp) Houston.

But for all of you Johnny-come-lately's who have bandwaggoneered your way into becoming a Rangers fan the past four years, this is how it used to be on a regular basis. And without all the injuries.

I turn on the TV and see a bunch of guys I've never heard of donning Rangers gear. And some of them will be gone the next day.

But here's the thing. This organization has done things the right way and this is just a blip. Hopefully. The Rangers have used approximately 432 pitchers and 157 position players before the All-Star break. I think both are records. This is a lost season.

Look on the bright side: plenty of good seats available at the Ballpark. And no matter how bad the team is, a bad day at the Ballpark is better than a good day at work.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Natalie Stovall and the Drive

I have heard that country music is the most popular form of music in the United States right now. If that's the case, then by definition, country music is pop music, right?

Natalie Stovall and the Drive are a pretty good pop rock band that you just might hear on mainstream country radio or CMT and GAC.

Stovall fronts the band and plays a pretty mean fiddle. The strength of the Drive is the musicians. With James Bavendam on drums, Zach Morse on bass and guitarists Miguel Cancino and Joel Dormer, The Drive is a jam band of the highest quality. Evidenced by this medley of mostly classic rock songs, Natalie Stovall and the Drive excel in the live setting. And that's a good thing as sales of physical forms of music as well as digital downloads are on the decline, being replaced more and more by streaming.

Stovall and the Drive released a self-titled, six-song EP in late 2013. They are currently working on a full-length record slated to be released sometime this year. A single from that EP was released accompanied by the video for "Baby Come On With It". Country, it ain't. But it is some good fun pop rock.

Natalie Stovall and the Drive on Amazon.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Quick Thoughts on Nashville Outlaws Motley Crue Tribute

OK, so I haven't listened to the entire record, only the one minute snippets available to preview on iTunes. But that's enough to know that Nashville Outlaws - A Tribute to Motley Crue is not the massive train wreck I expected it to be.
There is some good, some meh, some bad and a couple truly inspired tracks.

Pretty much, every artist that tried to do a standard remake of a song just came off as a watered down version of the original: Rascall Flatts' "Kickstart My Heart", Justin Moore's "Home Sweet Home", Eli Young's "Don't Go Away Mad", Brantley Gilbert's "Girls, Girls, Girls", Gretchen Wilson's "Wild Side" and Darius Rucker's "Time for Change".

Florida Georgia Line actually sounds like a good Southern Rock band with their version of "If I Die Tomorrow". If they would stay in that pocket they probably wouldn't be the butt of so many jokes that they are today.  And Cassadee Pope stays pretty true to the original on "The Animal in Me", but I like way she does it.

Some artists decided to stray off far from the original, with mixed results. Lee Ann Rimes' "Smokin' in the Boys Room" is just....odd. And not quite right. Clare Brown & Sam Palladio on "Without You" just falls flat. Big and Rich's "S,O.S." is ill-conceived and boring.

But.....and wait for it, there are three gems on this record.

Aaron Lewis, lead singer of the band Staind turned a pretty bad Motley song into a pretty damned good country song. His version of "Afraid" might be the largest departure from the original, but also the most successful.

Lauren Jenkins (don't know who she is) but her version of "Looks That Kill" is pretty killer in it's own right.

Finally, the Mavericks' doing "Dr. Feelgood" is just about genius. It takes the original out of the streets of Los Angeles and transports it right into Miami. It feels very "Miami Vice". And it doesn't feel wrong.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Good Song, Bad Video: Dokken: Breaking the Chains

Dokken was never one of my favorite bands, but I do like the song "Breaking the Chains" from their debut album of the same name.

This video is so epically bad it's fantastic. I don't blame the band or anyone else for that matter. This was made during the infancy of the video age and nobody knew what they were doing.

You should immediately notice George Lynch's unfortunate two-toned mullet. Then there is a preening walk down a narrow hallway. Then we get to some of the "performance" footage in the video and take particular notice of the synchronized, death-defying leap off the 2 1/2 foot riser by Lynch and Jeff Pilson at around the 54 second mark.

There is some pretty bad green screen usage with the estranged female super-imposed. There is fire and chains in a dungeon-like setting. Then of course the power of the guitar solo, by the guitar hero breaks them all out of their chains.

Now we go to what may the most disturbing part of the video, wearing some kind of martial arts top masquerading as a robe, a pants-less Don Dokken is laying chained to a bed. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I'm not saying there aren't any cheesey videos out now, but the early 80s are a goldmine. Enjoy.

Dokken on Amazon.

TheCheapSeats on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Working Women's Wednesday: Dolly Parton

Yeah, I know. Last time Stevie Nicks, this time Dolly Parton. Nothing groundbreaking in featuring these two icons.

But a lot of people don't know of their greatness, their contributions, their legacies. And that's a shame. If I can educate just one person, I've done something.

Dolly Parton has recently released her 1,497th album. You might want to fact check's just an estimate. Blue Smoke came out in the U.S. in May of this year and hit #2 on the country album charts. You probably won't hear any of the music on mainstream country radio.

How does Dolly stay relevant, other than the fact that she is Dolly freakin' Parton? Why not commission the boys from Bon Jovi to re-write "Lay Your Hands On Me"? Sure.

Playing to a huge crowd at Glastonbury, England, accompanied by estranged Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, Dolly killed it, as only Dolly can.

This performance overall, not this particular song, has come under some scrutiny as being lip synced. While I don't believe this song was, you can read more about it here at Saving Country Music.

Whether solo or with Porter Waggoner or Kenny Rogers, Dollly Parton has always commanded attention. I would be remiss to not include some version of "Jolene".  So here you go:

Monday, June 30, 2014

Good Song, Bad Video: Motley Crue: Looks That Kill

I'm old enough to remember the time when MTV was actually Music Television and played videos. And play videos, they did. Good videos. Bad videos. Any videos.

So let's revisit some of that. There is a plethora of content out there.

We'll start with a band that can take it. Despite this ill-conceived, misogynistic video, Motley Crue has withstood the test of time.

I don't fault the Crue, or anyone else in this series, for these atrocities. It was a part of the times.

From Shout at the Devil, here is "Looks That Kill".

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Southern Rock is Alive and Well

OK. So we are all annoyed by the guys yelling out "Play some Skynyrd" or "Freebird". And, yeah, that still goes on. The band doesn't appreciate it. Most of the patrons don't either.

But, you know what? There are plenty of bands out there keeping Southern Rock alive. Do they all play "Freebird"? Nope. Do they rock in the spirit of Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, Molly Hatchet, ZZ Top, the Allmans, Charlie Daniels, etc.? A resounding yes to that.

In the past I've been more than willing to say "Today's music sucks".  Well, yeah, some of it does. But some of it is really good. Here are some bands doing Southern Rock justice.

Whiskey Myers: My personal favorite. And, as a caveat, I can be swayed by the fact that they hail from Texas. Their latest record Early Morning Shakes is pure, unadulterated Southern Rock, no matter how it's categorized now.

Blackberry Smoke: I have to give them proper credit.  They were my gateway into looking for more modern Southern Rock. I first heard them and was intrigued. Are there really still Southern Rock bands out there? Yes, yes there are. And Blackberry Smoke is at the pinnacle.

Preacher Stone is pretty unknown but they bring it. Although they don't want to be known as a Southern Rock band, but rather a rock band from the South I'm including them anyway.

There are many more. And that excites me. Search, dig and find the music you like. Don't let anyone else dictate what you listen to.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Brooke Ansley: Nothin' Fancy Demo

Courtesy of reverbnation
I really don't know much about Brooke Ansley other than this one time she was Miss Maryland, so there's that. (Her words not mine). Actually, you can check her out on her website.

What I do know is that the one-time Miss Maryland has written and recorded a demo of a fantastic country song. It has a story. It has a melody. It has a hook. And I like it.

And here it is:

Original Soundcloud version:

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