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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Granicus “Better Days”

Throughout the musical history of Cleveland, Ohio there are many bands that have come and gone that have left their marks on the music world whether within the city limits of Cleveland itself or on a much grander scale. Bands like The Raspberries, The James Gang, Pere Ubu or even Nine Inch Nails all started here before going on to bigger and better things. And while these bands are well-known throughout the world, there have been plenty of other bands that have called the city of Cleveland home before moving on to other larger and greener pastures. One particular band that had had a connection to the city of Cleveland before relocating in order to achieve success was the Psychedelic/Hard Rock band known as Granicus.

It was in the city of Cleveland that Granicus founder and drummer Joe Battaglia brought together a band of four other individual musicians in order to create a Hard Rock band to rival the likes of Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Blue Cheer and other bands that were around at the same time. Together with bandmates Woody Leffel on Vocals, Dale Bedford on Bass, Al Pinell on Rhythm Guitar and Wayne Anderson on Lead Guitar, Joe Battaglia brought Granicus to life. These initial five musicians would go on to create a self-titled record in 1973 under the Granicus moniker for RCA before falling apart because of several different circumstances that ended up driving the band members apart.

Many years after the initial era of the band, members of Granicus were brought back together again because of the rerelease of the band’s self-titled album and the discovery of initial tracks that would have become the band’s second release. Having control of their music, the band took the tracks that had been recorded during the era of the band’s heyday and created what would essentially become the band’s second album. The 2010 release is entitled Thieves, Liars, & Traitors.

Since the release of 2010’s Thieves, Liars, & Traitors, the name of Granicus has stayed alive within the city of Cleveland. The band has actually enjoyed a rebirth of sorts after the release of the second album. In fact, the band is still going strong performing for fans of the band, both old and new alike. But today’s version of the band is much different than the original lineup. While Granicus still performs the same music that got them signed to RCA Records in the first place, the musicians in the band are mainly a completely different group of guys.

Today’s version of Granicus consists of drummer and band founder Joe Battaglia, vocalist Gerry Schultz, guitarists Artie Cashin & hPr, and bassist Bobby Stephens. It is this newest lineup of the band that has recorded the latest release under the Granicus moniker, the 2016 album entitled Better Days.

Better Days from Granicus begins with the title track of the release. While the majority of the album has a definite Hard Rock vibe going through it, this track is slightly different. With “Better Days,” the band unleashes a strong guitar presence in the music that is a lot closer to Heavy Metal than your normal Hard Rock is. Guitarists Artie Cashin (who appeared on the completed tracks for 2010’s Thieves, Liars, & Traitors) & hPr create a strong groove that would easily have been found on any Heavy Metal album back in the eighties while vocalist Gerry Schultz has a voice that is reminiscent of someone like Ian Gillam from Deep Purple. In fact, Schultz even produces a scream that’s close to Gillam’s signature sound. Together, the track of “Better Days” lives up to what Granicus used to sound like while also kicking up the energy level quite a bit.

The new release from Granicus continues with the track “Southbound”. This track is a lot closer to the Granicus of old. The Hard Rock style contained within the track would easily fit right in with the music from the initial time period of Granicus in the mid-seventies. “Southbound” starts off with a slow guitar solo before the track picks up steam. The track continues to alternate between a slow pace to the music and a quicker tempo throughout the four-plus minutes of playtime. “Southbound” would easily belong on an Album-Oriented Rock station.

With the track “Walk Free,” Granicus slows the pace down a little but never lets up on the energy of the music. The steady pace of the music allows the musicians to create a musical groove that allows for a little jamming. The track features several guitar solos within the nearly six minutes of Rock And Roll. Together, the band combines all of their musical elements to produce a track that feels just like it should had it been created back in the seventies. “Walk Free” is one track off of the new Granicus that truly will make fans of Classic Rock very happy.

The band picks up the pace with the track “On the Road”. The track features not only a strong beat, but also a driving feel to the music. Like other songs about getting behind the wheel, you can just about imagine yourself speeding down the highway with the song blasting away. The song’s pace is made possible with the help of the guitars from Artie Cashin & hPr who create a two-guitar feel with the two players alternating between solos. The vocals from Gerry Schultz help add to the driving feel of the track. Ultimately, “On the Road” is one of the strongest moments on the Better Days album.

For the track “Take Me Back,” Granicus slow things down. The very relaxed track features an easy pace to the music, a much less intense feel to the song’s sound and even the inclusion of a keyboard that adds more to the relaxed feel of the song. As the track slows things down, the thing that stands out the most is the vocal ability of lead singer Gerry Schultz who adds not only the lead vocal to the track but also the harmony to add depth to the vocal on the song. “Take Me Back” is definitely the track that shows off the lighter side of Granicus; however, it also shows the band’s ability to create a more intimate musical scene when the moment calls for one.

Just like the first track of the release, “Better Days,” the final track of “Still Rockin’ It” finds Granicus creating a track that feels more like an older style of Heavy Metal than Hard Rock. The harder delivery to the music and Gerry Schultz’s stronger vocal delivery create a moment on the release that, once again, shows off the band’s range as musicians. This new version of Granicus seems to have created this song as a way of reminding new and old fans alike that, while the bandmembers may have changed over the years, this new version of the band is still out there to burn the place down, musically speaking.

Better Days from Granicus is a very solid release from a band that has had an extremely interesting history as a group. While it was not created by the same exact group that ended up getting signed to RCA back in the seventies, this version of the band has done a nice job creating a solid group of songs that create an album that live up to what had come before. Drummer and founder of the band Joe Battaglia should be proud of what has been accomplished on Better Days.

 

To hear the music of Granicus, check out the band’s song of “Better Days“.

For more information, check out the Wikipedia Page for Granicus.

For the music of Granicus, check out the band’s music page on their website by clicking on the album cover below:

better-days

Categories
Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Valley Lodge “Use Your Weapons”

Dave Hill, a man who has made a name for himself as a comedian and writer, has returned to his rock and roll roots that he cultivated in Cleveland as part of several bands including Sons of Elvis and Uptown Sinclair, among others. Lately, Hill has been creating music with a New York-based rock outfit by the name of Valley Lodge. Along with Dave Hill on vocals and guitar, the rest of Valley Lodge consists of John Kimbrough on guitar, Phil Costello on bass and Rob Pfeiffer on drums.

One of the things that you will notice when listening to the music of Valley Lodge is that the band has a wide amount of influences that help shape the sound of their music. Because of that, the music of Valley Lodge moves from current rock to a more retro feel to the music. Valley Lodge has recently created a new album entitled Use Your Weapons.

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Features

Cleveland Says Goodbye to Jane Scott, Music Journalist

On July 4, 2011, Cleveland, if not the whole music world, lost a very important part to it. One of the most recognizable and influential personalities in media lost her battle with time. On that very special day when all Americans celebrated their independence, we lost Jane Scott at the age of 92.

You may not have known her by name, but you most definitely had to have run into her once in a while if you took in concerts around Cleveland on a regular basis. No matter how old you are, you had to have crossed paths with Plain Dealer Rock Journalist Jane Scott at any of the concert venues around town while going to concerts of famous bands that have sold millions of albums or even bands that were just getting started.

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Features

PIGSHIT: Eight questions for our ANT-BEE

I know of only one man in the entire world who can gather members of Yes, Focus, Gong, Utopia, the (original) Mothers of Invention, the (original!) Alice Cooper group, and even the late, extremely great captain’s Magic Band all together upon the same compact disc – often on the same song even – and somehow not only make it sound right, but make it sound great. That man is the one, the only Billy James who, doing business since 1987 as ANT-BEE, has concocted some of the most delightfully challenging ear honey since, well, Robert Fripp lost his sense of humor for starters. Yes, “prog” is no longer a four-letter word in Billy’s hands, and Electronic Church Muzik, the first ANT-BEE album in too-many years, is finally here.

It contains sixty-four full minutes of audio which, quite frankly, defy description. So I’m not even going to try. Instead, on behalf of us all, I thought I’d simply sit The Man / The Ant down to tell us, as only he can…

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Features

PIGSHIT: Should PAT BOONE be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

As the powers-that-still-be gamely inducted yet more seemingly willing accomplices on March 14  (eg: Neil Diamond? Not bad. Alice Cooper? At least that includes his entire, original band. And Darlene Love? ABOUT FUCKING TIME! as Stella McCartney would say)  one pretty-burning question, alas, remains:

Should PAT BOONE be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?

I duly trolled the Internets on behalf of RnR Reporters everywhere, and This Is What I Was Told, in exactly their own words (and precisely their own punctuation):

Phil Kaufman,  Road Mangler Deluxe

Pat Boone?  Pop Hall Of Fame …or the White Buck Shoe Hall.  But NEVER Rock ‘n’ Roll!

(P.S.: Where is the “ROADIE Hall” ?)

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Artists and Bands

Heavy MTL: Back and louder than ever

After disappointing Quebec metal fans last year, Heavy MTL returned to Parc Jean-Drapeau on July 24 and 25, much to the delight of the head-banging faithful. With thirty-four bands booked over two days, Saint Helen’s Island, located between Montreal and Longueil, was packed with long-haired, tattoo-covered, beer-drinking metalheads worshiping their rock Gods.

Saturday, July 24, sunny skies and a million degrees outside, yours truly took in the action. The day’s lineup sported some old heavyweights like Slayer, Megadeath, Rob Halford from Judas Priest, and the ageless Alice Cooper. Scanning the crowd, most of the attendees were clearly too young to have actually been alive when most of these bands were in their prime. But metal fans don’t care what your latest hit is, they just want a tonsil-bleeding good time. And that’s what they got.

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Artists and Bands

Hot Hot Heat get candid and explain what rock and roll is all about, and how it got effed up

You may not know it yet, but Hot Hot Heat might just be the band that saves Canada’s rock scene. The group’s latest record, Future Breeds, hit shelves (physical and virtual) on June 8th, and proved that the darlings of rock have done it again. First appearing on British Columbia’s music scene in 1999, Hot Hot Heat may have gone through a lot of changes over the years, but one constant has always been their signature quirkiness, stellar musicianship and intoxicating sounds.

I had the chance to sit down with drummer Paul Hawley and bassist Luke Paquin at Toronto’s Red Bull Headquarters during the NXNE festival, as Hot Hot Heat prepped for an exclusive performance at the intimate, loft-style locale. What follows is not a typical Q&A interview, but rather an open conversation that allows one to gain a glimpse into what Hot Hot Heat is all about, and what the band members’ personalities are truly like.

Luke: Once you hit play [on your recorder], I’ll get serious so …

Paul: Well, if you hit play we’re going to hear some other interview you did.

Me: You’ll probably hear Alice Cooper then.

Luke: What, today? Where? Was it a phoner?

Me: Yeah, he apparently doesn’t like to do interviews in person.

Paul: Really? I don’t like to do them on the phone. I like to do them in person, but I’m also like, half his age.

Luke: Well, the thing about Alice Cooper is; he’s a pretty big deal.

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Features

Wig Wam frontman talks pre-show rituals, Norway, Non Stop Rock n’ Roll and, yes, Gene Simmons’ ability to sell horseshit

If you’re a fan of glam rock and if the likes of KISS, Alice Cooper, Van Halen and Thin Lizzy fill your CD player (um, I mean mp3 player), but you’re not familiar with Wig Wam then, let me be the first to tell you, you’ve been missing out – big time.

When Glam (vocals), Teeny (guitar), Sporty (drums) and Flash (bass) got together to jam in 2000, it wasn’t long before they turned their just-for-fun endeavor into a full-fledged glam rock revival extravaganza i.e. Wig Wam. The band hit the studio, dug out all the leather and spandex they could find, and set out on the road to conquer Europe and, seemingly appropriate, Japan.

Having just released their fourth in-studio album entitled Non Stop Rock n’ Roll, frontman Glam took some time to catch up with The Rock and Roll Report and give some honest, and witty, insights into everything from the disappointing state of Norway’s music scene, to the futility of drugs, to Gene Simmons’ potential ability to sell horseshit (and who could disagree with that?!)

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Features

Genius or Madman? Gary Reynolds Plans to Release 52 Songs and 12 Albums in 2010 – Really

Seattle-based singer/songwriter Gary Reynolds and his band, The Brides of Obscurity, have extraordinary plans for 2010: they plan to release a song a week and a full-length album a month throughout all of 2010. Yes, you read that correctly. The band will release fifty-two songs and twelve full-length albums this year and to keep things fresh the tracks will range in style from psychedelic indie-rock to power-pop to folk-inspired numbers.  So genius or madman? Read the interview, hear the tunes and make up your own mind!

Q: Wow! Tell us about the inspiration behind choosing to release 12 albums this year.

A: I came up with this concept of releasing a song a week. Basically, I’ve been playing music for a long time and officially, what happens is, in the past I would record an album. I have three “Chronicles” – Cretin Chronicles volumes 1, 2 and 3 – those were what I did in my college days and they’re Brit-poppy psychedelic garage rock. Remember the “Pebbles” series that came out?