Monday, March 24, 2014

Talk Turkey, but don't tweet it. Please. OK if you really must...

This week, I'm in Istanbul, Turkey, for a work conference--GALA 

Twitter, as you may have read on the international news, is currently blocked by the Turkish government. You just can't tweet or receive tweets: it's simply not working... or the tweets are flying off into the internet black hole. And rumour has it that there may be no internet service at all tomorrow, for most of the working day. 

What is this doing? It's creating a nation of internet and network geniuses. Outside Turkey, see what's reaching you.

That apart, tonight I saw an amazing show... the men dancing were great, but Asena, Turkish belly-dancer and tabloid favourite, was just incredible. I had no idea we were going to see her... wish I'd taken a decent camera and not just cell phone!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

William Control, new album "The Neuromancer" out April 4th. And it's good. Very good.

The WBTBWB show left me feeling a little overdosed on screamo-hard-metal-death-post-whatever-whatever-WHATEVER-the-heck-too-much-screaming-too-little-singing-applecore, and so for the past two weeks I've been listening to more melodic and tuneful vocals: Zucchero's "La Sesión Cubana", the Gipsy King's "Savor Flamenco", I'Octane's beautiful new reggae album "My Journey", and to the wonderful EP, "Fourplay", from The Three Way (don't forget their CD launch party, April 12th).

And also to a preview copy of Willam Control's new album, The Neuromancer, which will be released on April 4th. (William Control, electronic project of wiL Francis, vocalist with the band Aiden.)

The first time I listened to it, I very much was taken by William Control'spoken voice... it's a stage actor's voice, a poet's voice... but then my brain dragged itself down a pedantic, mental, pronunciation-of-English rathole, thinking about all the ways in which "mirror" can be pronounced. (I grew up saying "mirr-oh!", most of England says, "mirr-uh", but never had I heard a reflecting-glass be called "meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer" until I arrived in the USA years ago and yes, I still find it distracting, stupidly, as the first listening to The Neuromancer proved. Weird how one word can do that.)

The second time I listened to The Neuromancer, I heard a touch of Depeche Mode and Spandau Ballet, but with a raw edge. There are subtle reminders in the lyrics, too; you'll hear mention of a "personal Jesus" in God is Dead, and "new romantic boys" in Revelator.

The third time I listened to The Neuromancer, I started to grin, as the lyrics really kicked in. While the music is immediate and light and catchy and danceable, the lyrics are a snippet grim. A little black. A tad sacreligious, a touch resentful, but very clever and direct. With topics including S&M (Filth and The Fetish), love, hate, heaven and hell, the juxtaposition of the very-poetic, Plath-like words over the electro-dance beat told me there is a real sense of humour behind William Control. In a way, the album reminds me of Malcolm McLaren's Paris: not that there is any similarity in the music, but rather in the flow, the connection from the beginning to the end of the recording, and in the very clean production.

And then, the next time I listened to The Neuromancer, I truly heard it. It's a work of art.

Above all, the final track, Where the Angels Burn. It's part song, part poem, part longing, part despair. It's the eternal champion searching for his Ermizhad, in song, in word. It's compelling and beautiful and haunting.

(And yes, I've had the album on repeat and will continue to do so.)

The Neuromancer will be on sale on April 4th in the USA. You can also find out more about William Control on the website,

"William. You will reveal a capacity to shock, to startle lifeless ones from their profound slumber..."  I think that about sums it up.

Go listen. You'll just have to wait a few more days... but you can preorder it here:   And watch out for the tour:    And yes, he'll be in Northern California: April 24th at Slim's, San Francisco.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bands help fund music scholarships for kids with help from Soundz of NorCal: Clockwork Hero, The Three Way, Pushing The Son and Skin of Saints

I was lucky enough to grow up in a place, and at a time, when music, art and theatre/drama were part of fundamental education. That, and being taught to read at a very early age, provided me with the tools to be "me", no matter what. Today, this education in the arts and early appreciation and understanding of music is to a great extent ignored within the school curriculum--at least here in the USA. Parents must choose, instead, to provide this learning outside of school. And to pay for it. And to support and nurture the idea of a child exploring music in the first place.

ALISON TOON: The Three Way &emdash; The Three Way live March 2014
The Three Way
That's the main reason behind last night's fundraiser organized by Soundz of NorCal at Sacramento's Starlite Lounge: raising money for 10 musical scholarships through the Gold Lion Arts music instruction scholarship fund. The scholarships will pay tuition for ten children for one year. Nice work!

The other purpose of the show: to have fun, and to showcase some local music.

ALISON TOON: Pushing The Sun &emdash; Pushing The Sun live 2014
Pushing The Sun
The venue was by nature, dark: it's a large room, upstairs in a Sacramento mid-town bar. The stage was lit, but even so, I was under-exposing shots at 1.1:8, 1/80 and 3200 ISO. And then the first band had the brilliant idea of switching off the stage lights and relying on three LEDs... so what you see is what you get, apart from the fact that while the human eye can gradually adjust to very, very low light, the camera lens doesn't. (Happily the next two bands kept the stage lights on: I was not able to stay to see Skin of Saints, will have to catch them another time.)

ALISON TOON: Clockwork Hero &emdash; Clockwork Hero live 2014
Clockwork Hero
I really, really enjoyed The Three Way. They have a CD launch party coming up soon and I'm looking forward to that. Their music is bluesy-rock'n'roll with a snip of Tom Waits thrown in along the way. Powerful and fun and real music from real musicians. And I always love slide guitar.

ALISON TOON: The Three Way &emdash; The Three Way live March 2014
The Three Way
Lineup and Toon's Tunes photo galleries:

Clockwork Hero, from Stockton:
The Three Way, from Sacramento:
Pushing The Sun, from Concord:
Skin of Saints, from Sacramento.

Huge thank you to the organizers for setting this up, and to the bands for providing a fun and entertaining evening, and helping to raise money for this worthy cause.

ALISON TOON: The Three Way &emdash; The Three Way live March 2014
The Three Way

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lineups announced for Sac Music Fest and for Concerts in the Park

Sacramento Music Festival is held each year in Old Sacramento, on Memorial Day weekend. The initial lineup has been announced and includes some of the performers from last year. Lineup can be seen here on the festival website:

And the 2014 lineup and schedule for Concerts in the Park has been published, too. The lineup, which includes loads of local bands, is here: 

And Aftershock have set dates and will announce lineup soon...

It's going to be a fun and musical outdoor summer in Sacramento!

(Sadly, there won't be a Sunrise at Night concert series this year. Hopefully it will be back in 2015.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Deftones, new album? Festivals? What when where?

According to a Rolling Stone article published today, Deftones have begun work on a new album. They are also touring--including lots of dates in Texas, one in St Petersburg, Russia, and the Sonisphere Knebworth festival in the UK.

ALISON TOON: Deftones &emdash; Deftones live 2013
Deftone's Chino Moreno, Aftershock festival 2012
I wonder if they'll be in the lineup for Aftershock 2014? What do you think?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Honour Crest, Lions Lions, and The Iliad and the Odyssey

Three more bands, so full of energy that I swear they spent as much time in mid-air as they did grounded; I don't know how they play, let alone sing, while jumping like that, but they do.

ALISON TOON: The Iliad and the Odyssey &emdash; The Iliad and the Odyssey live 2014
The Iliad and the Odyssey
The Iliad and the Odyssey; young and local Sacramento band, opened the show.

ALISON TOON: The Iliad and the Odyssey &emdash; The Iliad and the Odyssey live 2014
The Iliad and the Odyssey
Second in the line up were Honour Crest, and my personal favourite of the evening. Not least because they spell honour properly. Yes, I'm English. Honour Crest recently released their debut album, Spilled Ink, and it's well worth a listen.

ALISON TOON: Honour Crest &emdash; Honour Crest live 2014
Honour Crest
A bit like an artist not being able to truly create abstracts until they have mastered classical painting, I don't think a vocalist can succeed completely with screamo unless they can really sing, too... and I like to hear evidence of that. But that's just my personal opinion. I'm sure you have yours.

ALISON TOON: Honour Crest &emdash; Honour Crest live 2014
Honour Crest
And then Lions Lions. Incredibly energetic. Find them on Facebook, too: Lions Lions 

ALISON TOON: Lions Lions &emdash; Lions Lions live 2014
Lions Lions
The Assembly wasn't full. It was a Sunday evening and people had to work the next day. But that left plenty of space for those who were there dance, pogo, and jump on command. And throw themselves from one side of the room to the other in exuberant celebration of the music.

ALISON TOON: Lions Lions &emdash; Lions Lions live 2014
Lions Lions
More photos from all three bands supporting We Butter The Bread With Butter can be found in separate galleries:

The Illiad and the Odyssey:
Honour Crest:
Lions Lions:

The WBTBWB tour continues: see all the dates here: We Butter The Bread With Butter 2014 North American Tour

Of Butter, and of silly band names (e.g., "We Butter The Bread With Butter")

Right now, there are so many bands around with names that consist of Verb-The-Noun (insert random Verb and random Noun around "the" and you'll understand--there must be an app for that already surely because there seems to be a blatant lack of creativity in band name creation), that to discover a band with a name like... oh really, I have to say it out loud????  Surely, to find a band with a name like "We Butter The Bread With Butter", or WBTBLB for short, (though it's no shorter to say and it's darn infuriating to try)... you'd think that band would stand out, simply by it's name, and I'd be drawn to them just because of that.


We Butter The Bread With Butter live Sacramento 2014

It had the opposite affect.

I wanted to ignore them, because that name is so darn ridiculous.

Seriously guys, what were you thinking? The band is labelled as deathcore... and the name is smooth and bland and English teas and summer and cream and just well... buttery? Really? Shouldn't it be something heavy and Germanic, something that sounds aggressive even if the words mean something gentle? "Brot mit Butter", for example? Or "Ich Liebe Dich"?  Or something you can yell and make a song of, the name of an airfield, like "Rammstein"??? Oh. I forgot. That's been done already.

We Butter The Bread With Butter live Sacramento 2014

But here they were in Sacramento again, and I went to see, and hear. Online reviews of their new album, Goldkinder, are very mixed: some rave about how wonderful the blend of electronica, metal and Paul Bartzche's in-your-boots-growling vocals are; others just don't get it, not one bit.

We Butter The Bread With Butter live Sacramento 2014

I found them quite intriguing, both musically and visually. Appearing on stage in clouds of fog, they played almost in the dark for the first couple of songs. Then one by one, the band members donned strange devices or headsets that added to the light show, and a video played as a backdrop with images from WBTBWB videos. This didn't make for the best photos of a live band ever, but intriguing all the same.

We Butter The Bread With Butter live Sacramento 2014

Musically: a mix of electronica, hardcore metal, and something that sounded on the edge of pop. And very very deep screamo-growling vocals.

And a couple of hairstyles that somehow meld metal with Justin Beiber. Go figure.

All in all, a very entertaining show. But guys... fix the name. Please. It distracts from the music. And you make real music and you put on a good show; something a wider audience should hear, and see.

More photos from We Butter The Bread With Butter's show at the Assembly, Sacramento, can be seen in the gallery:

The WBTBWB tour continues: see all the dates here: We Butter The Bread With Butter 2014 North American Tour

For review and photos of the three support acts, The Iliad and the Odyssey, Honour Crest, and Lions Lions, click here or scroll up!

Mark your calendar: Aftershock 2014, September 13th and 14th, Sacramento

Keep up-to-date by checking for lineup, tickets, and more.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Zucchero's "La Sesión Cubana" out in the USA. At last!!! And a USA tour too!

I was in the right place, at the right time, to see Zucchero performing songs from this Cuban-inspired album in Grenoble, France, in June last year. Here's the review:

ALISON TOON: Zucchero &emdash; Zucchero live 2013
Zucchero, at the Summum, Grenoble, France, June 2013
The album is now available in the USA through Amazon:  Zucchero, La Sesión Cubana

ALISON TOON: Zucchero &emdash; Zucchero live 2013

Wonderful voice. If you're in the USA and don't yet know Zucchero's music, check it out. This new album is just one facet of his career.

ALISON TOON: Zucchero &emdash; Zucchero live 2013

For more pictures from the Grenoble show, see

For more info about Zucchero, and for his upcoming USA tour, see:  He'll be in San Francisco in April!