CD Review: Retribution Gospel Choir 2 [2010, Subpop]

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Toronto – I’ve seen Low a couple of times now and while I definitely enjoyed them, I will admit that I got a little bored during their sets.  In fact, Low was a band I didn’t pay that much attention to until I happened to catch the brilliant documentary Low-You May Need A Murderer, more a portrait of singer Alan Sparhawk and his own set of beliefs and opinions than a straight band documentary.  After that I became a full on fan and was excited to see what they would do next.  I also discovered Sparhawk’s more rockin’ side project, The Retribution Gospel Choir.  Sparhawk’s desire to rock out more suggested to me that perhaps even he was getting a tad bored with the “slowcore” dynamics of his dayjob.

So you can imagine I was excited to catch Retribution Gospel Choir when they played a show at The Drake on Jan. 25 … but I got really sick and was unable to go, so I thought why not a CD review instead? 

Retribution Gospel Choir is definitely a more riff oriented affair than anything from Low’s back catalogue.  In fact, a couple of these tracks could probably be slipped into the Q107 playlist without anyone making too much of a fuss.  “Workin’ Hard” kicks out the jams like Boston or some other geographically named 70s rock band who enjoys endin’ words with apostrophes while “Poor Man’s Daughter” busts out some Crazy Horse-isms and “White Wolf” rides a riff that’s slightly reminiscent of a combo of ACDC’s “Dirty Deeds” and Danzig’s “Mother” while still sounding like an Alan Sparhawk song.  They even have a song called “Electric Guitar.”  How rock is that?

In a way, this is like a beefed up version of Low (bassist Steve Garrington also plays in both bands) and that is definitely a good thing.  Perhaps other performers on the softer side of the musical spectrum should consider changing things up for an album or a side project.  Imagine it – Bon Iver cranks it up to 11, John Darnielle recruits his favourite black metal musicians to play in The Mountain Goats … the possibilities are endless.

CD Review: Melt Banana – initial t. (2009, Init Records)

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Toronto – OK, so first things first, this 3 song EP is only slightly over 5 minutes long, which means it took me less time to listen to it than to write this review.  But it’s awesome.  For those who don’t know, Melt Banana is a Japanese noise rock band that has been described (on Wikipedia anyways) as “new wave grindcore.”  Their songs are short and fun blasts of high pitched vocals, blasting drums and crazy guitar noises, sounding a bit like what might happen if you teamed up a bunch of hyperactive kids on a sugar rush with a technical metal band and got them to create a soundtrack for the most amazing yet freaky kids cartoon ever.   Sadly, that cartoon will only ever exist in my head.

CD Review: Halford – Winter Songs (2009, Metal God Entertainment)

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‘Tis the season … for leather? OK, so this is a weird one. Heavy metal icon and Judas Priest singer Rob Halford has released a Christmas album. I am confused. Aren’t Judas Priest the very same band who back in the 80s were put on trial for allegedly putting hidden satanic messages into their albums so that when played backwards they convinced kids to shoot themselves in the face? Oh, I get it, when you play this backwards, it turns into an anti-Christmas album and …. Dammit! I can’t get this CD to play backwards! I guess I’ll just have to listen to it the regular way. And not shoot myself in the face.

Anyways, it seems that other than the chugging guitars and piercing falsetto vocals, this is a straightforward seasonal entry. It’s even got traditional tunes like “O Holy Night” and “We Three Kings,” which actually sounds kind of awesome when given the metal treatment. I wouldn’t mind hearing this played at the mall slipped in between the Bing Crosby tunes. It’s not quite up there with Bing or the Boney M Christmas album, but it’s an interesting change of pace.

Concert Review: the Selmanaires, Atlas Sound, Broadcast, October 24, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Allison in Albums, Concerts, Everything | 21 Comments

Every once in awhile, a show comes along and completely blows your mind by the sheer randomness of it. When I saw bauhaus back in 1998 at what was once known as the Warehouse, a muscle-bound freak started random fistfights with everyone around him (women included), a future boyfriend’s watch was smashed in, and management confiscated the camera I had smuggled in. Last night’s Atlas Sound show had a few medical emergencies, a beyond sold-out crowd, and most memorably, my encounter with Bradford Cox.

The evening started off innocently enough. The Selmanaires, another Atlantan outfit invited out to support and back Cox in his Broadcast leg, opened up the show right at 10:00. Having known nothing about them prior to their set and contemplating skipping it altogether, they impressed me with their Primal-Scream-esque dancey psychedelia beats. The only thing they have to work on now: vocals and choosing other Georgian bands to cover (hey, the B52’s were great but everyone was sort of puzzled as no one could recognize the tune they chose). Also, this is another up and coming band that has an Asian…and Ricky, I believe he’s of Chinese descent. Tommy Chung sings and provides bass guitar, so there’s another one to add to our list. The real draw for me however (and there is absolutely no surprise here), was their Colombian ultra-babe percussionist Mario Schambon.  This guy ripped up those bongos and you could just tell he exuded a genuine joy in being able to percuss onstage, toothily grinning to his bandmates the entire time.

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