Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Nektare “Apocalyptic Butterfly”

Trials and Tribulations is a character builder. After a two-year hiatus, I have returned to give awesome reviews of great rising heroes of Rock!

In my time in L.A., I’ve seen many concerts of talented bands. But there is one classic rockin’, psychedelic sounding, awesome band that stands above the rest. Nektare is the name. The driving force behind this band is Naomi Nektare. This petite lass, with a deep powerful voice, is an Arizona native who began writing songs from the age of three and has not stopped since.

Nektare consist of Naomi , vocals, Brandon Criswell, bass, Rich Vaccaro, guitar, and Todd Nosek, drums. The bands sound is inspired by rock legends like Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, all the way to The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lenny Kravitz added with a little blues. Nektare has toured all over Southern California in well-known venues such as The Roxy, Viper Room and The Hard Rock Café.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Nektare’s upcoming album, Apocalyptic Butterfly. There is a lot of rock, heart, life experience, and passion in each track of the album. “American Dream”, written by Naomi Nektare and Rich Vaccaro, is about the struggles of following your dream. No matter how much you are pushed down, dust yourself off, get up and keep on trucking. It is a very inspiring song about tenacity. “Cruelean Blue”, written By Naomi Nektare and Brandon Criswell, is a touching story of love and loss. You can feel Naomi’s broken heart cry out. This song speaks to me the most. “Cruelean Blue” represents a painful part of life we all go through. The title track, “Apocalyptic Butterfly,” written by Naomi Nektare, is a very fast paced, classic rock sounding with religious symbolism popping out here and there. The song is about Revelations and the second coming of The Messiah. Talking about epic symbolism, imagine the apocalyptic destruction is a cocoon, and the symbolic butterfly, rising from the ashes, is The Messiah returning. What better way to symbolize the second coming like the title of the song?  If the end is coming, it takes a BIG brave person to ask forgiveness. And it equally takes a BIG person to set aside differences, accept the apology, and renew ties of friendship. Life is too short to hold grudges. (WINK, WINK). But I digress. Apocalyptic Butterfly will be released later this year.

I did have the pleasure of seeing the band in concert. Nektare’s live show is a spectacle. “Naomi sees herself as the shaman, her band as the sweet soul medicine and the audience as the tribe – uniting together to rise to a higher consciousness through music.” As said on her website. It was a magical experience I will never forget.

(Editor’s Note: Check out the video for the title track from Nektare‘s upcoming release Apocalyptic Butterfly as well as other songs by the group here.)

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Faust “Something Dirty”

Surprises: we claim to love them, perhaps to project a ‘just go with it’ posture and free spirit spontaneity, and they are truly cherished when they’re either incredibly beneficial – winning the lottery — or incredibly banal — oh my, that bouquet of flowers she received sure was unforeseen. Those scripts aside, we tend to dip in the tedium of gray rather than the stochasticity arising out of the blue. Surprises can be terrifying, because to submit to them is to submit control of one’s environment. Routine, the rigid everyday we’ve toiled to erect and safeguard, becomes irrelevant in the cruel wake of chance.

Faust was always the black sheep of krautrock, histrionic, hysterical, and at times, unparalleled. Submitting to these fellas was to submit to one hell of a jarring ride, the sort that would in all likelihood traverse a dizzying sea of temperaments and textures, mercilessly flinging audiences from side to side, only sparing those entranced and eccentric enough to dust themselves off and follow these incantatory trails into the darkness. The Hamburg outfit was never particularly abrasive on the musical plane, but their trajectory was endlessly serpentine and flighty.


Hugh Cornwell gets reviewed and talks You’re Covered, influences and industry changes

Hugh Cornwell, the original frontman of The Stranglers, is about to embark on a spring tour of the UK where, due to popular request, he will be performing his album Guilty in its entirety. Hugh will also be performing old favorites like ‘The Raven,’Schoolman,’ ’Down in the Sewer,’ ‘Toiler on the Sea,’ ‘Walk on By’ and ‘’Feel Like a XXX‘ each evening.

Hugh has recorded an exclusive ten-track album comprising of tunes which have stayed with him over the years and just pop into his head on occasion, just like good favorite tunes do. This album is called You’re Covered and only 250 copies are available. These will be given to VIP ticket holders, which will also be able to watch and interact with Hugh during the sound check, and each copy of You’re Covered will also be signed on the night by Hugh.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Asobi Seksu “Fluorescence”

Whoever claims it’s best to shrug off the past and peer solely at the road ahead is a mendacious son of a bitch. All we do is look back. Entire lives unroll in the amber glow of reminiscence in order to abscond the dreaded manacles awaiting us upon the snap of our stupor. Hell, we probably even manipulate the fabric of these good ol’ days more than we’d like to admit, shifting a strand here and there to repel spirit-dampening pocks of truth and exalt the luster of langsyne.

It’s been quite a rocky ride for Asobi Seksu since the release of its breakout full-length Citrus in 2006. It wasn’t a flawless sophomore LP, but the guys and gal were evidently getting somewhere by bundling the small-fish, cosmopolitan flavor of indie-pop in shoegaze’s fractured brume. Follow-up Hush aimed to polish the outfit’s craft, slimming its veils of noise and presenting deliberate, cascading entries rearing heads that could regrettably moonlight as tails. The bite had been squandered. More vitally, the fields trodden had shriveled to a sour stuffiness. The album feels cloistered, these serpentine numbers closing in on themselves rather than gamboling across a glittering vista to flout omnipresent tethers to, well, everything a gaggle of wet-behind-the-ears kids would want to flout.

Artists and Bands

Alcoholic Faith Mission talks new members, new tunes, Denmark and why the band is training to become cage fighters (?!)

Want to know one of the best things about one of Toronto’s biggest annual music festivals? Well, CMW, which stands for Canadian Music Week (for those who may not know), is not (thankfully!) all Canadian at all. Instead, CMW seems to agree with a fact I have always found to be true – international artists add wonderful diversity and truly help mix up the musical flavors at festivals. During CMW 2011, one such standout band was Copenhagen’s Alcoholic Faith Mission. Releasing a new EP, The Running With Insanity EP, on March 29th, the band has been busy charming North American audiences throughout the month of March and during their stop in Toronto, Morten Hyldahl took time to speak to me about new members, new tunes, Denmark and why the band is training to become cage fighters (?!).

Q: The Running With Insanity EP is coming out March 29, what should fans expect? Any surprises?

A: We’re very excited about it. Once again, we try to change the style a bit, so this time the fans can expect more vocals, more acoustics, percussion and a bit more lyrical bite. But it is only an EP, mind you, and just a taste of what will come in the fall.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Stacie Collins “Sometimes Ya Gotta…”

Stacie Collins has been known as a “harmonica blowin’ hell-cat” for a reason: the musician puts on a hell of a show in concert. Stacie Collins writes music that combines rock ‘n’ roll with blues and even a little bit of country. And the music she writes is as hard-rockin’ as she is. Having already made a name for herself in the music industry, she is currently growing her fanbase with the help of her newest album of Sometimes Ya Gotta.

Sometimes Ya Gotta, the new CD from Stacie Collins, was produced by Dan Baird of Georgia Satellites fame. The new album contains 12 tracks, all of which were written by Stacie Collins and her husband Al. With the help of Baird playing guitar on the songs and also producing the album, Collins’ music has never sounded better. And with the addition of Eric “Ebo” Borash on guitar, Warner E. Hodges on guitar, Al Collins on bass, Michael Webb on keys and Jimmy Lester on drums, Stacie has the perfect group of musicians to help her produce an album that contains her special blend of music.

Sometimes Ya Gotta begins with the song “Hey Mister”. It features the band as they rock out and it also features Collins as she blows a mean harmonica. This song is one of the hardest rockin’ songs on the release. The song is the perfect way to introduce the uninitiated to the sound of Stacie Collins.

The second song on the album is “I Won’t Do You Like That”. The song has a classic rock feel that is in the vein of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock And Roll”.

Little Things” feels like it has a bit of a country twang to it, though there are no fiddles or slide guitars being played on the track. The main reasons for this feeling to the track are the slight twang in Stacie’s voice and the twang in Eric “Ebo” Borash’s guitar playing. Jonell Mosser’s backing harmonies also give it a certain country feel. This song could easily be pushed as a crossover hit on both Top 40 radio stations as well as country ones.

The Very Last Time” is a track that brings all of the musical feelings in Collins’ writing style into one song. At one point, the song has a country feeling, there’s a rock feeling, and the harmonica playing of Collins adds a little blues to the song.

Speaking of blues, Stacie and the rest of her band get down and dirty with the song “Give It Up”. The musicians all make the song feel as much like the blues as it does a rock song, the perfect combination to allow Stacie to shine on the harmonica.

The pace of the music changes drastically with the song “Carry Me Away”. The song features a rock backbone with a definite Zydeco feel, as Michael Webb joins in on the song with the accordion.

With the song “Cool,” the band once again plays the blues on the album. The slow pace, slide guitar and Collins’ harmonica really bring the blues alive on this track.

For the last song of Sometimes Ya Gotta, the band plays the song from which the title of the album was taken. It is on “Lend The Devil A Hand” that Stacie Collins and the rest of the band end the album on a strong note as they give it all they’ve got for one last song.

For her latest release of Sometimes Ya Gotta, Stacie Collins has produced an album worth checking out. If you have yet to discover her music, this would be the perfect time to do so.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Forever Storm “Soul Revolution”

Serbian heavy metal band Forever Storm is recording their latest album.  The working title, Tragedy, is set for release at the end of the year.  With the newest single, “Paradox,” another larger than life song has graced Forever Storm’s repertoire.  “Paradox” is technically driven with faster guitars and pulsing rhythms.  The sound reflects the band’s inspiration – classic heavy metal resounds.  Forever Storm will not disappoint.

Like the last album, epic themes reside.  The world is destroying itself with pollution and corruption.  Paradox is the life we breathe that is killing itself.

Soul Revolution is Forever Storm’s first album release.  Themes rally against oppression and alienation on national and personal levels.  Forever Storm will astound with more releases, studio time and live shows.

Reviews and Suggestions Rock News

De Staat ride the waves of Machinery and hit the road

Holland’s critically acclaimed alternative rock band, whose unique sound is as distinctive as The Dead Weather, Captain Beefheart, Nick Cave, Steve Reich, Queens of the Stone Age and Tom Waits is set to tour the UK in April 2011, riding the wave that their second album, Machinery, is making.

In less than a year, De Staat has become one of the biggest alt rock acts in its homeland of Holland. Now, what is the band expected to do next after topping 2010 end of the year lists and playing highly acclaimed sets at many festivals including Lowlands, Pinkpop and Glastonbury?

Live Rock and Roll Reviews and Suggestions

Voodoo Johnson tick all of the boxes, while adding a few more, with their music and live shows

Back in late August of last year Voodoo Johnson released their debut album 10,000 Horses. I have been enjoying this album an awful lot ever since getting my sticky mitts on a copy a short while ago. The heavily rocking tunes that VJ has always produced have been an aural addiction of mine from the first time that I came across them on MySpace just over two years ago, so I had been looking forwards to hearing this for some time. At times like this, I often find that in the anticipation during the wait, your imagination can often lead to disappointment once you finally get to that elusive first listen.

This was not the case with 10,000 Horses. The opening track ‘Headstone’ detonates this cluster bomb of solidly rocking tunes and nails you down, demanding your attention. It takes no prisoners from the start, as it begins with a volley of guitar, bass and drums leading into the vocals. It has a true rebellious edge. ‘Sin’ is just as hard edged and leads onto ‘Feel Karma,’ which  just tops this opening trio of tracks, as it kicks out with an unstoppable vengeance.

Reviews and Suggestions

Cd Review: The Trews “Hope and Ruin”

We should know who The Trews are. This Canadian band has released four albums in the last seven years. Two of them went gold. They’ve had two number one hits and ten Top-10 singles. They’ve played nearly 800 live shows, including support slots for the Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, Guns N’ Roses, Nickelback and KISS.

Led by an exceptional voice that is nearly a dead ringer for Pat Monahan (Train) on his best day and backed by an organic, roots rock ensemble, The Trews is a refreshing blast of modern pop rock. Producing good hooks just seems to be in the very fabric of this band’s DNA and there’s no shortage of excellent songs to mine from the dozen on their latest, “Hope and Ruin”.