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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Amplified Souls Review

This last week I had the privilege of attending Amplified Souls' performance in Old Town Square as part of the Ben and Jerry's FAC Summer Concert Series. It was an outdoor concert, and the weather could not have been more perfect. No wind, warm, and no precipitation. Of course, you're not here to listen to me blather or about the weather, and if you are then you must have seriously mistyped the address into your search bar.

Anyway, on to the review. The band consisted of five members: Vocalist Karen Nicholson, Lead Guitarist Brad Henecke, Rhythm Guitarist Bob Francella, Bassist Jim Clark, and Drummer Mike Cech. Every member of the band is quite well versed in their are of expertise, making for a highly talented group. As far as Classic Rock is concerned, Amplified Souls is one of the best bands in Northern Colorado.

We'll begin with the Vocalist Miss Karen. I have to say, having played in a hard rock band with a female singer, I always get a little excited when I see another band making a similar move. I was not disappointed, as Nicholson demonstrated her pipes by belting out songs of the greatest groups to grace the stage: the likes of Joan Jett, Bon Jovi, Queen, and others. She had a very rock n' roll voice, very reminiscent of Pat Benatar. Strong voice endurance as well, she kept strong through quite a long show. She had no evidence of over-singing, no obvious missed notes or lyrics, and overall provided a very strong performance.

Next to my favorite subject, Guitar. When I arrived at the show and saw Mr. Henecke strapping on a Paul Reed Smith, I was immediately worried as I am whenever I see one of those guitars. I am always afraid of a disappointing performance from such an awesome guitar, similar to seeing a brand new gleaming Ford Mustang roll down its window to reveal its some rich punk 16-year-old newly licensed dork driving it.  I am happy to report that Brad definitely has the chops to play such a great guitar. His soloing was great, following most of the covers almost perfectly. He was nearly flawless across the entire show, though wasn't quite as smooth on Guns n' Roses' "Sweet Child of Mine." Of course to his credit, that is an insanely hard song to play, Slash is one of the best guitarists of our time.

My biggest concern with the guitar is that while Brad Henecke is a great guitarist, his volume and extensive effects (while great sounding) completely washed out the rhythm guitar. For many of the songs, I would dare to say that I could not hear the Rhythm guitar at all. Now this is definitely a problem, because the rhythm guitarist Bob Francella is a great guitarist as well. When I could hear him play, he drove the songs well and comped the vocals and lead expertly. In my experience, the rhythm guitar is in a league with the Bass guitar, in that it is crucial to a band yet receives little to no credit. An overpowering lead guitar can be one of the causes as such. Turn up the rhythm guitar, and turn down the lead.

Now for the Bass Guitar. The Bass comped very well with the rest of the band, and since I couldn't hear the rhythm guitar the bass was the main drive during the songs. Not much room was provided for the bassist to shine, but like the rhythm guitar it is an unnoticed but crucial cornerstone to the sound. The bass riffs were performed flawlessly and really tied the rest of the band together. My only problem was that there were a few songs where the Bass was a little too loud and drowned out the rhythm guitar and even the vocals a few times. The drums were solid as well, and the rhythm was consistent. The drummer wasn't given a lot of room to shine as well, I would have liked to see what this drummer really is capable of. I will say, the drums were probably the most appropriate as far as volume levels are concerned.

Now let's get my biggest complaint out of the way so we can get to what made this performance great. Don't get me wrong, these guys have some real talent, and for that reason I must hold them up to a higher standard. In giving a much stricter critique, it is actually a compliment to the abilities of this band. That disclaimer said, here was my sore subject of the performance. I already touched on it a little above, my biggest problem was the volume and levels. While it was an outdoor show and the acoustics weren't the greatest, the sound of the band was severely affected by a unbalance in the sound.

For starters, I would have liked the master volume of the entire group pushed up, especially since its an outdoor show. Now I realize that because of the public nature of the venue (being in the middle of Old Town Square) and because it was a family oriented show, the volume probably had to be down a bit. I'm a metal head, so I of course prefer the ringing in the ears that follows a show, but I'm not asking for that level of volume, but it was far too quiet. I began the show about 3/4 of the way back and central in respect to the stage, but after about two or three songs I had to relocate to the front of the crowd to really hear the music.

Beyond the master volume, the balance between the parts really needed to be re-allocated. While the vocals and lead guitar sounded great, they completely overpowered the rest of the band. Like I said earlier, I often couldn't hear the rhythm guitar at all. The bass came and went in power, never too quiet, but often too loud. Again, the drums were the most appropriate volume but percussion can cut through the rest of the sound quite easily so even when they could use a little more volume they usually tend to sound alright. I definitely plan to see these guys again hopefully when their levels are a little more balanced. Honestly, that was the only major problem I noticed.

See, now that wasn't too bad was it? And I only have good things to say about this band for the rest of the review.

As for the set list, it was quite a long one but because of the nature of the show and the venue, it was quite fitting. The show was about as long as I had expected, and when we reached the end I felt quite satisfied. The set list had plenty of strong covers, mixing up styles every once in a while though sticking primarily to classic rock. The show started with what I would say was the strongest number of the night in Heart's "Barricuda". The guitarist employed chorus and flange (EVH I believe) that mimicked Heart's guitar tone incredibly well. Nicholson's voice covered Miss Wilson's vocal style quite well, and overall it sounded pretty close to the original song. I was also impressed by their cover of Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker" and as I said earlier, I think Karen Nicholson's voice very closely resembles that of Benatar. The band closed the first act with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' famous anthem "I Love Rock n' Roll." Don't we all? A great song to leave us with, I was definitely ready to hear more.

Following the break, I feel the band decided to take some risks in more challenging songs. For the most part, they were quite successful in their covers, with the only exception being their attempt at Queen's most famous anthem, "We Will Rock You." I have said it before, and I stand by this statement: Never ever ever ever ever cover Queen. It can't be done. Freddie Mercury (RIP) has a voice that can never be imitated, and I have never heard any singer, male or female, be able to truly capture all the emotion and power that he could. On top of that, I think Brian May is one of the greatest guitarists to have ever graced a stage. Beyond that, if you're gonna cover Queen don't cover "We Will Rock You." While every person on earth knows that song, its just something you can't quite mimic. On top of that, if you are to cover that song, it requires an enormous crowd who all are willing to participate in the iconic beat. Furthermore, our society has overplayed that song to an extent unleveled by almost any other rock song in history. Leave that song to sporting events, if you have to cover Queen play "Headlong" or "I Want it All" (if your guitarist wants a challenge). Now, that said, they performed the song quite well. The talent is there, its just not a song I recommend covering. The one thing that did impress me was the lead guitar's mimicry of Brian May's tone. His use of octave and chorus is very unique and very hard to duplicate but I feel the guitarist did so very well.

The band also covered some songs by one of my favorite artists, Bon Jovi. They performed "You Give Love a Bad Name" and it was a great cover (maybe not a shot through the heart, but a great cover.) The solo was nailed, which really sold the song. They also covered Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a prayer" and I still debate on whether or not it's placement in the setlist was wise or not. On the one hand, the set was hitting the biggest longueur of the evening, and this song was a strong crowd pleasing high energy "nine o'clock" number. On the downside, because it was so late in the show the vocalist's voice was beginning to show signs of strain trying to hit the high pitch Bon Jovi chorus. Still, a very strong cover, but I think it was a little rough on poor Karen.

An interesting thing happened during one of the covers, a situation I still laugh about. The band covered Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. in the USA" and as they were playing, I started thinking to myself "you know, this song has the exact same chord progression as "What I like about you" by the Romantics." Lo and behold, halfway through the song the turn it into a mash up with that very song. Is Billy psychic? Maybe. Psychotic? Definitely. This was their biggest creative move of the night in my opinion, and the two songs really did mash well together.

The last great cover of the setlist was "Rock n' Roll All Nite" by KISS. Brad sang this one, and I was impressed at how similar his vocals sounded to Gene Simmons. Guitar mimicked nicely as well, but then again KISS isn't exactly a hard sound to imitate.

Following this, the band finished their set and I have to admit I was a little disappointed. They definitely could have ended on a bit more powerful of a note. However, I noticed the band turned their backs to the audience and congregated together at the back of the stage. Fishing for an encore a bit? Now I'm all for the encore, but I have a warning that I will issue to all bands. I will always be very strict on the encore, because you have to prove that you earned it.

I was correct, for after a short bit of applause from the crowd, the band returned to play one more song. Now here is the make or break point. If you are going to play an encore, you need to pick a high energy, crowd pleasing, and over all amazing song to play. What did they choose? Led Zepplin, Rock n' Roll. Bravo, Bravo. Not a better encore song could have been selected, so big points for that. Of course that means nothing if you can't nail it, but that was not a problem. I was blown away by their cover and it ended the show with a BANG.

Now for showmanship, these guys did a great job on stage. They had a small group of dancers (most of which were  5 year olds and attention deprived teens) but such is always respectable. Karen Nicholson easily had the most energy of the band, as is expected with the frontman/woman. She had great stage presence, and she and the band looked to be having fun on stage which is integral to performing. If you're not having fun, how can you expect the crowd to?

In respect of the availability of their music, there are four recordings on their Website that of great quality. I will plug real quick that their website is very well done, it provided all the information I needed about this band. I really appreciated the published song list, for after seeing the songs they perform prior to the show, I was sold on seeing them. Understandably, no albums were for sale for it would be a nightmare to get the rights necessary to sell a CD of covers. The band makes up for this in playing a lot of shows in the nearby area. If you are interested, they will be playing on June 12th at Peppers on the Plaza, Chili Cook-Off in Cheyenne Wyoming. Also, they will be performing at the Summer Lagoon Concert Series on the CSU campus west Lawn of the Lory Student Center on July 6th. I'll definitely be there!

In my approach following the band, it was a little tough at first to get the attention of the band members. They had a lot of friends mobbing them, but when I had a chance I was able to talk to Karen for a while. She was very polite and showed genuine interest in my review (you'd better!) and valued my opinion. I also had the chance to speak to Brad the Lead Guitarist, though he was busy cleaning up the stage so I had to go seek him out. He seemed a lot more reserved than the others and very humble. I admire that in a guitarist, for many tend to be very over confident in their abilities and will do just about anything for the spotlight.

The Breakdown

Overall Sound Quality: 8/11 Great tone, everything sounded amazing but the volume levels are something to reconsider
Set List: 10/11 Plenty of strong songs, a great mixture of styles, great flow, only a few songs were questionable
Showmanship: 11/11 Plenty of energy and a fun atmosphere. Great performers, put up a great show
Cover Quality: 10/11 Great covers, sounded very much like the real thing! I would have liked to see a little more originality and perhaps some new arrangements, but strictly as a cover band it was great.
Music Availability: 10/11  Lots of chances to catch this band!
Personality: 11/11 Very genuine, have a love for their fans and great people overall. I'd love to jam with them, play some of my favorite classics!

The Final Note:
60/66 An absolutely great show! I would recommend any classic rock fan to see these guys in concert, you will be impressed. Keep up the rock, look forward to catching you in July!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Andrew Webb Review

I recently had the privilege of seeing Andrew Webb and his band at the Spotlight Music Cafe. The band consisted of frontman Andrew Webb who wrote the music; played keyboard, guitar, and sang; and above all else was the center of attention and main attraction of the group. He was joined by a Guitarist, Bassist, and Drummer who's names I was unfortunately unable to obtain/remember. Regardless, they were absolutely awesome and backed up Andrew quite well.

The band plays an alternative rock style, very modern though not necessarily edgy. As far as the live show was concerned, the levels were a little off, I could have stood to hear louder vocals and a little less guitar (Imagine that, Billy asking for less guitar!). Andrew really has a great voice, so when it's drowned out by an overdriven guitar (as beautiful as the guitar was) it makes me a little sad to say the least.

One of the most impressive things I found about Andrew and his band was his guitarist. That guy has some serious talent. I have to admit, listening to him solo makes me quite self conscious about my own playing, that guy (whose name I'd really like to learn) is likely one of the best (if not the best) guitarists in Northern Colorado. I would have enjoyed the show just listening to him play, and packaged with a great Bassist, Drummer, and of course the talent of Andrew Webb makes for an amazing sound. His tone was impeccable, playing a Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster through Fender Deluxe Reverb (I think) amplifier with an assortment of effects pedals (I think I spotted a Cry-Baby Wah and Green Screamer).

The set list was of appropriate length, I felt quite satisfied by the end. I would personally recommend having the set list posted or on a hand out because there were many original songs I really enjoyed and would have liked to know the title of for future reference. The actual "set list" also caused for some problems on stage as some less than conventional methods of informing the rest of the band were used (rather comical I might add) but overall made for some awkward breaks between songs that the show could have done without. I also would have liked to see the "Andrew Only" songs interspersed with the full band songs to mix up the sound a bit, though I can understand for ease's sake why it was chosen to keep them together.

The band also played a couple covers, my personal favorite being the surprising rockin' cover of the Backstreet Boys' "Larger than Life," a song that we all know the lyrics to whether we will admit to it or not (thank you 1990's). I'm not a huge fan of the Backstreet Boys, but I have to admit that song made for a great rock cover. It encourages me to continue the cover arrangements I'm currently writing of some popular pop songs (stay tuned for my cover of Taio Cruz's Heartbreaker). The cover was well placed as a 9 o'clock number after a bit of a longueur in the second half of the show. It thoroughly energized the crowd, even had some ladies dancing! Hell, I was excited!

Now on to original compositions. The show had many original songs, and they were quite well written. I would have to say that my favorite was "Break the Chains." That being said, the song sounded good live with Andrew and his Acoustic guitar (which bore a picture of broken chains) but is nothing in comparison to the recording on his CD. The multiple guitar parts, drums, and the rest of the background on the recorded version really bring out the song and make it incredible. I'd strongly recommend listening to it and his other songs located conveniently on his Website (which I might add is quite well done). For Andrew, I'd recommend teaching your songs (especially Break the Chains) to the rest of your band because I'd really like to hear the song live with more of the parts added in.

Seeing as how much I enjoyed the show, I purchased Andrew Webb's two CD's as well as a delicious Cupcake. I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I found that each CD only contained a single track, I was really looking forward to listening to five or six songs.  The two tracks were "Break the Chains" and "Lose it to Save it" which were his best compositions anyway. The recordings are crisp and clean, great sound quality, levels, and EQ. Whoever equalized the recordings should come along for the ride at their live shows, I'd like to see them again with appropriate levels.

Following the show, I found that the members of the band were very approachable, which wins HUGE points in my eyes. Andrew especially, who actually came to me following the show winning me over as a fan. He also showed interest in the blog, which naturally appeals to my ego and thus winning him more points. Damn, I think this dude figured me out... time to move again...

Overall, I think these guys were absolutely incredible. Andrew if you're reading this, please let me know when  and where your next show is and I will make sure to be there and I'm bringing all my friends.

The Breakdown
Overall Sound Quality 9/11 Great recordings, work on the live sound
Set List 9/11 Nice songs, work on the flow a little more to avoid that longueur
Original Compositions 10/11 Really great stuff, I'd love to hear more!
Showmanship: 10/11 Near perfect lots of energy, print out a set list!
Music Availability 10/11 nice website, would have liked to see your other two recordings on the CD's
Personality 12/11 Spinal Tap goes to 11, Andrew Webb goes to 12. I felt like Andrew really is a genuine guy and I wouldn't mind holding a few jam sessions with him (too bad he's already got an awesome guitarist...)

The Final Note
60/66 Really a great performance and band, I would highly recommend them to any Rock fans out there. Keep up the Rock, I can't wait for your next show!

American Idol Review

With the season at its end, I feel compelled to write a review of the Idol finalists and my favorites. 

May I begin in saying this season was worlds better than last (which I gave up watching halfway through.) The dynamic is a lot different with the new judges, I of course was excited to see one of my Idols (Steven Tyler) as one of the judges. It was nice having someone who understands rock and roll judging the show, though Tyler had widely no critique for any of the contestants, rather giving support to all candidates and having little to nothing bad to say about anyone. Randy was... well Randy. Name dropping and his catch phrase "___ is in it to win it" were prevalent in every episode, but he did offer arguably the best critique for the performers. J-Lo was nice eye candy, but beyond that she was pretty useless. I'd vote to keep her on the show as long as she keeps her mouth shut.

Now to the contestants. I'll begin with probably the most under appreciated contestant in Casey Abrams. He reminded me a lot of David Cook, in that he has a good but not necessarily stunning voice, but musically is incredibly talented. I was impressed with the number of instruments he could play, and admired the uniqueness to his approach. Sadly he didn't last till the end, because America doesn't know a true musician when they see one. Oh well, what can you expect from a country that worships the likes of Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.

Next I'll talk about my favorite, which I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear it was James Durbin. The first time I heard him hit one of those Rob Halford-esque squeels, I had a horned fist in the air. Out of all of them, this is the guy I'd want to perform with, I could already imagine his high pitched pipes backed by my mad licks. 

What I think the downfall for him was when he picked one of the greatest songs ever written, and one which I would always advise against. This of course was Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" As the judges aptly put it, this song is "The highest degree of difficulty" and I would venture to say that no artist should ever attempt it and expect to sound anywhere near the magic of Journey. Glee arrangement? Crap. Rock of Ages? Not quite there. Many others of course. 

Anyway, back to James. I think his final week he should have ditched his plan to sing Journey and gone with the song that me, Steven Tyler, and America (I presume) were waiting to hear him sing: Dream On by Aerosmith. While his performance of Don't Stop Believin was good, its just such a classic song that you really can't take many liberties with it. Journey is just one of those bands you can never cover, like Queen. 

As much as I loved James and his plight "Give Metal a Chance!" there was another contestant that stole my attention and whom I declared to have the best voice in the competition. That was Haley Reinhart. She easily should have won the entire thing, but we all well know that this competition is only mostly about the contestant's voice (sad, I know.) Though I do not understand why America would choose Lauren over Haley, I personally would say Haley is better looking, better sounding, and better on stage than Lauren could ever hope to be. Don't get me wrong, I thought Lauren was great, but Haley blew the entire competition out of the park. It probably had to do with the fact that J-Lo had some kind of grudge against Haley, I imagine because Haley is better looking and far more talented than J-Lo could ever dream of being.

I would have to say that of all the performances on the show, I would give the top three all to Haley. The three songs that she sang that won me over were classic "House of the Rising Sun", the King of Pop's "Earth Song", and Ben E. King's "I (who have nothing)". All three of these songs, which my sister has downloaded and I will be stealing from her, are truly unforgettable and I will look forward to having them on my Ipod. 

What makes Haley so great (besides her blonde hair and beautiful lips and hips) is how unique and powerful her voice is. Her range is incredible, being able to nail the high notes in her chest voice while still sounding great on the low notes. Of course, the thing that set her apart from the others was her growl. A very gospel and soulful growl, she brought a lot of power to her vocals with it as best demonstrated by her rendition of Blondie's "Call Me"

Thank you America for giving me the ultimate blue-balls by allowing Haley to reach the top only to be eliminated just before the finale. I think when they announced that Lauren was moving on, the look on Haley's face said it all. It was a look that said, "You've got to be F***ing kidding me...". While I am one who does not like artists who are pompous about their abilities, Haley definitely earned the temper tantrum that she thankfully didn't throw (which I graciously threw for her.) I'm going to make a bold prediction here and now that over the course of the next 10 years, Haley outsells both Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreary. Screw you America, you don't know an amazing voice when you hear it.

Now that I've had my say about James and Haley, I'll spare a few words for the two contestants that actually did make the finale. Lauren Alaina is cute, young, and has a great voice 'ta boot. While Haley's voice has so much more power, Laurens went more of the smooth country girl route. She sounded great, and I must admit that her performance of Martina McBride's "Anyway" gave me the chills. I also would also have to say that her rendition of "The Climb" was much better than Miley Cyrus'. That said, I think Lauren had a wonderful voice and absolutely no stage presence. I also think she's lacking in versatility, for while she sings country ballads beautifully, she's a bit of a one trick pony. 

Speaking of one trick ponies, we have Scotty McCreary, our 2011 American Idol. Yes, he's got a great deep country voice but that's it. He's incredibly awkward on stage and was widely forgettable. While I somewhat enjoyed listening to him sing Josh Turner "Your Man" it was more for the comedic value of the line "Baby lock them doors" than for the talent backing it.  Don't get me wrong, the guy's got a great voice but I just don't think he is more talented that Lauren, let alone James or Haley. I think he will go the way of so many Idols past, fading away while the runners up find success and longevity. As Chris Daughtry and many others proved, you don't have to win Idol to become a real star. 

As for the Finale, the songs both Lauren and Scotty sang were unimpressive. Lauren had a touching moment with her mother, but overall the performance was forgettable. A nice performance by David Cook though (who remains my favorite Idol winner). 

On the second night when the winner would be christened, most of the performances were pretty bland and uninteresting. Haley set a new level for hotness when she took the stage and sang a nice duet of "Steppin' Out With my Baby" along side legend Tony Bennett. A nice performance, they both sounded wonderful but I must say I was expecting something HUGE from Haley. Suppose that's what happens when you get my expectations up. Casey made a boneheaded move in choosing to sing with Jack Black who (as I predicted) completely upstaged him. They sang Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" as a tribute to J-Lo I'd imagine. 

James provided the best performance of the night, showing his true fit in the music world. Much to my pleasure, he was joined by Rob Halford and Judas Priest to perform "Living After Midnight" and "Breaking the Law." They rocked it, of course, and Rob made sure to give James the spotlight which is a genuine move. To think, these guys got snubbed out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Shame on you. 

The Final Note

Casey, most musically talented of the season
James, my favorite, I'd jam with you any day
Scotty "The Potty" snore fest
Lauren Alaina, cute, nice voice, not real original
Judas Priest, Hell yeah!
Haley Reinhart, SHOULD HAVE WON! Best voice by far, I want to marry her so I can hear her voice every day for the rest of my life... or just buy her album or something.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Finally, a review! Xak Wolfe and the Paid Professionals

As promised, I will be delving into analysis and review of musical acts and performances I have found noteworthy for whatever reason. You don't have to agree, you don't have to even know who or what I'm talking about, but then again if you hated my reviews then most likely you wouldn't be reading this blog in the first place. I mean, unless of course you are some kind of wicked masochistic with a gluttony for punishment of the mind and eyes and potentially ears and wish yo carry out your disgusting pleasure by reading this blog. If this is the case, please let me know and I will get you hooked up with some wonderful doctors because dude, you need some freakin' help!

Anyway, where was I...

Ah yes! Music reviews!

My first review (drum roll please) is for the local band Xak Wolfe and the Paid Professionals!

I had the privilege of seeing this group at "Spotlight Music" on May 11. If I toss in a plug here, I'd like to promote Spotlight Music. The local based music store "Spotlight Music" was started in Fort Collins, CO (where I currently reside) and is in my opinion and in the opinion of many others the premier Guitar shop around. Fort Collins was privileged to receive a Guitar Center a few years ago, which I worried would spell the end for Spotlight music, but they fought hard and have retained their title even in the presence of the Guitar  Superstore. Spotlight's current location is right at the corner of S. College Ave. and Harmony Rd. next to Panda Express and near what used to be Wal-Mart (before they retardedly moved to no-man's land between Loveland and Fort Collins). Spotlight has a huge selection of guitars, including an incredible supply of Taylor Guitars (Which I love!) as well as drums, Bass Guitars, keyboards, and accessories.

My favorite thing about the new Spotlight store is their cafe and stage where live music is performed many times a week. Check out their Facebook Page or Website for more information about performances as well as about their merchandise and store in general.

Speaking of Live music, wasn't I doing a review? How easily I get off on tangents. And before accusations fly (I don't blame you) to my knowledge I do not have ADHD... to my knowledge...

So back to my review, I had the pleasure of seeing Xak Wolfe and the Paid Professionals and must say I was widely impressed. The band consisted of three members, the main attraction being Xak Wolfe: the guitarist, vocalist, and song-writer. Xak's guitar playing was great, very clean and well played. He was playing a semi-hollow (I asked to see the guitar after the show and much to my childish pleasure he obliged) I regret to say I forgot the model. Tone was magnificent though, really made for a great sound. Whoever did the levels and EQ should get five gold stars on his/her forehead as well because volume and mix of the four instruments (voice included) was wonderful.

Speaking of voice, Xak has a very unique and great sounding voice. His vocals were rough and gritty though not so much in an AC/DC sort of way as much as more of a Creed kind of beautiful growl. It meshed very well with the music, especially since he went a much cleaner route with the guitar (in terms of gain/drive/distortion).

 Accompanying Xak (I love how he spells his name btw) are Nate Brown on Bass Guitar and Jesse Lee Hortenstine on the Drums. Both were very talented musicians and backed Xak up quite nicely. The drums were creative and interesting, while not being too showy-offy and supporting the melody. The Bass also complimented the guitar, though not stealing any spotlight from the guitarist (hey, what are Bassist's for?) 

The band's sound had elements of Southern Rock, Country Rock, and Blues, and overall I thoroughly enjoyed it. My personal favorite number of the show was a cover they played of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean", I'm not sure if they arranged it themselves or not, but I had not heard this arrangement before and was very pleased. 

As for their original pieces, my favorite song was one titled "Elizabeth Street" and was written by Xak detailing his memories of growing up on Elizabeth Street in Fort Collins. The song is available for download off this site as well as additional information about the band. They are currently unlabeled, but I feel they definitely are headed in the right direction as far as that is concerned.

The Breakdown

Overall Sound Quality: 11/11 Seriously, perfect volume and EQ not only Live, but in recordings as well
Set List: 9/11 Kept me entertained, good mesh of covers with originals. 
Original Compositions:10/11 Elizabeth St. and Brotherhood Road were both great!
Showmanship: 7/11 Not real flashy, started late and took a long break in the middle 
Music Availability: 9/11 Free Download was nice, would have liked to see albums at the show though
Personality: 10/11 Let me see his guitar, willing to answer my questions

The Final Note: 56/66 a great show, great sound, though lacking in showmanship. The Rock is there, now just bring out the star power. 

Getting into the swing of things

Ok well I think I'm getting the hang of this new site, it's not too difficult once you've silenced the voiced in your head and figured out where the buttons are. I'd dare say its so easy, a psycho could do it!

Anyway, soon this blog will be filling up with my music reviews and you won't have to read my blathering any further, but just so you all are aware I am indeed figuring out how to use this stupid thing. By stupid, of course I mean majestically beautiful in a way I am trying desperately but failing miserably at finding... kind of like Picasso's Artwork...

Psychotically yours,

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Blog

After my last blog came crashing down like an Armageddon meteoroid, I have taken the initiative to attempt to create a new one on this website. Hopefully this website will be more reliable than the last, providing for a nice space for me to convince the world just how psychotic I am amongst my reviews and ramblings that somehow (at least in my mind) have some kind of loose tie to music in some way shape or form.

As always, I'm your psychotic, music loving freak: Billy Burnstein, and I'm here to talk absolutely anything and everything Rock 'n Roll.

So let's burn it up and go for broke, watch the night go up in smoke. ROCK ON!!! (Def Leppard "Rock of Ages")