Sunday, September 23, 2018

Louder Than Life preview... why you should be there early!

Everyone always turns up at festivals in time to see the headliners. There's no doubt that you'll be in time to see the big names at Louder Than Life: Friday's Slash, Breaking Benjamin, Limp Bizkit, Alice in Chains; Saturday's Pop Evil, Bush, Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Godsmack, and Sunday's Billy Idol, Priums, Deftones, and Nine Inch Nails. But don't just focus on getting there for the headliners: there are amazing bands starting really early each day, throughout the three days of the weekend festival, worth shaking off the sleeping bag and grabbing coffee for.

Here are a few!

Stone Broken: hard rock from Walsall in the UK, opening the day on Saturday on the Zorn stage. You might want to check out their latest album, It Ain't Always Easy, before next weekend... including the song Heartbeat Away, which is hard to watch but has a very important message leading into October (Domestic Violence Awareness month) (Don't just 'be aware'... stop it happening). They rock and they will be finding new fans in the USA for certain. And they have the first of the day's female drummers, Robyn Haycock... later on Saturday you'll see Hayley Cramer with Pop Evil and that set too is going to be awesome. Is it a coincidence that both Ms Haycock and Ms Cramer are from the UK?

The Dose: indie-rock duo Indio Downey (vocals, guitar) and Ralph Alexander (drums) will be performing on the Zorn stage at 1.50 p.m. on Sunday. Below is their latest video, Saline... also check out their website for more info. Check them out!

From Ashes To New: We've covered this band for a long time, and it's wonderful to see them receiving so much more airplay--and the recognition they have worked so hard for. From Ashes To New will be on the Loudmouth stage at 3.10 pm on Saturday. Don't miss!!!

Red Sun Rising: If you haven't heard them yet, this video should be enough to get you to the barrier in front of the Loudmouth stage at 2.35 p.m. on Friday: (yes, this is a brilliant cover... also check out their other music on their official YouTube channel)

Anemic Royalty: Louisville, Kentucky's very own will be on stage on Sunday, at 12.50 pm on the Zorn stage. Check up on them before the festival here. Don't miss!

Blacktop Mojo: been waiting to see Blacktop Mojo live since early last year, when I first heard their music. Here's the review... they'll be on the Zorn stage, on Saturday, at 1.45 pm. Here's something to start your journey with them (and more music here on their official YouTube channel):

All times listed here are subject to change. For updates, see the Louder Than Life website, Facebook, or better still--install the app!

And please... stop doing the rain dance!

(I was writing this post when the news came in that the second day of Bourbon And Beyond, also held at Louisville's Champions Park on the bank of the huge Ohio River, has been cancelled due to weather concerns. While UK festival-goers are used to mud--we've all seen videos and photos of the mudbaths--extreme USA weather is not something to be jested with. The festival organizers, Danny Wimmer Presents, do everything to make sure that festival-goers, performers, workers and volunteers alike, are all safe. If you are looking for info on Bourbon And Beyond refunds, go here. Fingers crossed that the site dries up in time for next weekend.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Vinnie Paul All-Star tributes: Louder Than Life and Aftershock festivals

Vinnie Paul of HELLYEAH, Aftershock 2014
Vinnie Paul, HELLYEAH, Aftershock

We lost one of the greats, this summer.

HELLYEAH were due to play at both Louder Than Life (Louisville, Kentucky) and Aftershock (Sacramento, California) this fall/autumn. Now, an all-star tribute to Vinnie is planned at both festivals, organized by the festivals' Danny Wimmer Presents together with Sirius XM's Jose Mangin. 

The tribute will feature members of Five Finger Death Punch, Korn, Godsmack, Deftones, HELLYEAH, Shinedown, Sevendust, GWAR, Bullet For My Valentine, Body Count, KYNG, Cane Hill, Emmure and more and will include songs from Pantera and Damageplan.

Vinnie Paul Tribute
The tributes will happen on Saturday, September 29 at Louder Than Life, and on Saturday, October 13 at Monster Energy Aftershock.

Jose Mangin says, “Vinnie is an idol turned big time friend, and he left a massive void on this earth. When Danny (Wimmer) and Gary (Spivack) asked me to put together something special for Vin, I knew the best way to pay tribute to him would be to throw a Texas-sized jam session belting out Pan-mutha-fukkin-tera songs loud & proud! Everyone involved is doing this because they love Vinnie, and together we can all carry on his name, music and spirit forever!”

Chad Gray of HELLYEAH, Aftershock 2014
Vinnie Paul and Chad Gray, HELLYEAH, Aftershock
Louder Than Life this year is three days! Friday, September 28 to Sunday, September 30 at Champions Park in Louisville, KY. Aftershock is the weekend of October 13 and 14 with local heros Deftones headlining. Both festivals have huge, huge lineups... check out Louder Than Life here, and Aftershock here. Be there!!!

(And if you are in the UK or Europe and want to know who Jose Mangin is, check out Sirius XM Octane through their website. My favourite radio station, which unfortunately is only available in the USA. You can (sometimes, occasionally... it's quirky) listen on line for a limited time--click the Listen Now button--and hear some of the USA's best hard rock and melodic metal. If that doesn't work today, there are always recordings, top 20 and other articles on the website. I really, really wish they would make Sirius XM available worldwide!)

Vinnie Paul and Chad Gray, HELLYEAH, Ace of Spades, Sacramento

Monday, September 10, 2018

Review: Hozier, EP: Nina Cried Power

Hozier sold out Sacramento's Ace of Spades in February, 2015
Hozier. You remember. That dude who burst into our ears, and hearts, back in 2014. Take Me To Church, and the beautiful, self-titled album, Hozier... a Grammy nomination and performance with Annie Lennox, a sold-out USA tour... one new song for the movie, Legend Of Tarzan.. and since then, nothing. Crickets. Silence...

Nearly four years, and that's a long time for a young artist. It's a long time for any performer who doesn't already have a long-established fan base and back catalog. It's a time during which other new stars can appear, appeal, burn bright and fade away. Young fans become grown-ups-with-kids in that time. Where had he gone?

Just the occasional tweet promising new music... and then, a tour announcement (already sold out?), several festivals, a few rehearsal dates... and a new EP. Only four songs... but it is new Hozier music.

He's back. He never went away.

From the first notes of Nina Cried Power, you know it has been worth waiting for...  Featuring R&B, gospel and hall-of-fame singer-songwriter Mavis Staples, the song is so full of soul it's bursting. And that bass line...

Leaning more to soul, more soul, and folk than blues, the EP is a tantalizing tease, a reminder that we are still waiting for a new album; it's a promise of more to come, and it's a hope that there will not be three more years to wait.

Take a listen to Nina Cried Power here. Not only soul... it's protest, and activism, and human power, and the legacy of so many great singers who stood up for what they believed in.

Every artist has their own creative cycle, some longer than others. And just because someone is a musician, a performer, it doesn't mean that the rest of their life stops.Whatever the reason for long times between releases, it's all worthwhile. Just ask any Tool fan.

For more information, check Hozier's website or Facebook. Tour dates--if you can manage to get hold of a ticket--are here.  I assure you, you're in for a treat.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Album preview: New studio album from Finnish band, Korpiklaani: Kulkija

Saying you like music that's sung in a language that you cannot understand is a bit like deciding to have a tattoo done in a character set that you can't read or write: it's a huge leap of faith that they are not singing about how much they enjoy abusing women and children, or inking you with insults and stupidity and grammatical errors. However...

I like this band. I like the sound of the songs, the feel of the music. I like the vocals. A mix of rock, metal and folk... but I haven't the faintest idea what they are singing about.

Korpiklaani's new studio album, Kulkija (it translates to 'The Wanderer' or 'Wayfarer') is coming soon on September 7th... you can pre-order it here. It will launch the band on a huge, and I mean ginormous, tour, taking in many cities and towns in Russia, the USA, and then all over Europe. (There's a date in Sacramento, California at Holy Diver, and in London, UK, Islington Assembly Hall, among all the others--see them all here.)

Here's their latest single, Aallon alla (sorry but Google doesn't seem able to translate that... there are times when machine/automatic translation just doesn't work):

Find out more on Korpiklaani's Facebook and website:

(And please... if you speak Finnish and English, let me know if I have anything to worry about! I'm as comfortable with Finnish as I am with Hungarian, i.e., there are zero clues in the words that someone who speaks English, French, and a smattering of Polish and German can understand... yet it's a tease, because we share the same character sets!)

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Nothing More... new album??? But this is a lot less than Nothing. More inside!

Nothing More
Nothing More, Aftershock 2017
I woke up this morning, picked up the phone and started drifting through Facebook, looking for something interesting on a Saturday morning. What???? Nothing More released a new album??? How the heck did I miss that? (Muttering about not being easily able to find Sirius Octane radio... muttering at self for not being totally on-the-ball...) Jumped out of bed, straight to the PC (I search better with a real keyboard)... and nothing. Nothing on Nothing More's website, nothing on iTunes, nothing on Amazon.

Did I dream it? Was I really still asleep when I thought I was looking at the phone? (I have dreamed stranger things. I once dreamed about someone's height, and had to go Google it to find out that it was a figment of my imagination.)

Jonny Hawkins, vocals and drums, Nothing More
Jonny Hawkins, Nothing More, Louder Than Life 2017
Went back to Facebook, and sure enough, as usual... the stoopid algorithm had magicked away whatever I thought I had seen... or hadn't.

Dismissed it as wishful-thinking (that's better than senility or hallucinations, anyway). Carried on with the day. Pretended I wasn't going mad...

Ten hours later, my daughter pings me: "Nothing More have a new album????" She saw it too. It's wasn't a dream or too-little-sleep. It was a real announcement.

But wait...

We tracked it down. There is a band in France, also called Nothing More, who have been around for a few years, but who are nothing, and I mean nothing, like the Nothing More who were nominated for two Grammys last year.. Click here to find out about them and to sample their music. I'll let you come to your own opinion. The French Nothing More have, indeed, just  released an album, called Game of Truth, and from the rather negative comments now appearing on the "teaser" for the album on YouTube, it looks like they have also managed to have the music mixed into the USA Nothing More's Spotify channel.

If you want to see the French band's album teaser, it's here. and you can buy their album, Game of Truth, for ten Euros here. I guess they are getting more listens, if nothing else...

Jonny Hawkins, vocals and additional drums, Nothing More
Grammy-nominated Nothing More
I'm off for a walk with the Nothing More that I know and love. iPod and beach and Jonny Hawkins.

(The USA-based and worldwide stars Nothing More are on tour in the USA, dates with Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin and Bad Wolves, and then have several dates over here in Europe. Find all the dates here on their website. And I am sure that at some point in the not so very distant future, there will be a new Nothing More album. It's just not called a Game of Truth. Or maybe it will be... now that would confuse me even more!)

For many, many more photos of Nothing More, see the Alison Toon Photographer Nothing More photo galleries!