Thursday, December 20, 2007

Van Canto

My friend Karch recently reminded me of my love for a cappella music over on his site. Well, here's a weird one... a cappella heavy metal group Van Canto has five vocalists and one drummer (who plays real drums, not a beatboxer). Peep this:

MANOWAR Records Their First Ever Christmas Song!

From their official site:

MANOWAR recorded both German and English versions of "Stille Nacht" - known to English speaking fans as the classic Christmas carol "Silent Night"- as a holiday gift to all of their loyal fans, the greatest fans in the world. The song was recorded in "Hell" and mixed by Ronald Prent of Galaxy Studios, Belgium.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of the true metal warriors from MANOWAR!

Go to their site to download. It's surprisingly well done and faithful to the spirit of the song for at least the first two minutes. The last minute is where they kick in the Manowar power chords and power vocals. But even then, it's nothing more dramatic or over-the-top than you'd hear from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. All in all, it's worth a download and listen and it may even make it into your Christmas rotation. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Metallica is alive and making new album. Do we care?

From here:

Kirk Hammet and Lars Ulrich were interviewed by San Francisco Examiner where they said We don’t want pretty good, we want excellent and Rick Rubin is getting us to try and achieve that. He’s very good at getting the essence of an artist out and bringing that back to the top again. It’s the ‘Master of Puppets’ mentality again. You need to prove the world that you’re good, you need to be hungry again.


As of Thanksgiving, the only hurdles left are overdubs and James Hetfield’s vocals. “That’s it,” says Ulrich. “We’re very alive and well.”

The Afters New Album

In case you missed them the first time around, The Afters will be back next month with their sophomore album (Never Going Back to OK). If you love Fountains of Wayne or Switchfoot, you would have enjoyed their first album (I Wish We All Could Win). The title track for the new album is already on their Myspace, and so far I like it and am looking forward to the release of the full album Feb. 26.

(post written by dcedave)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

This really does not qualify as news since the observation that I am about to make comes straight out of material that is 12 years old, however the other day I was listening to some Faith No More. Not the usual suspects like Angel Dust or The Real Thing, rather I was listening through King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime (great title). Just four tracks in, I came across The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (again great title). A minute into the song, I had to start it over. I had to know if I caught that right. You see the thought that occurred to me as I made my commute out to the IE was that this song, it could be argued, might well be the source material for the sound of System of a Down. The way in which they change tempo, moving from in your face metal to melodic subtleties and back without much warning as to when those switches are coming. Now again, I stress that this is not news, just a late observation I made while trying to distract myself from the boredom of my morning commute.

(post written by dcedave)

Led Zeppelin Still Rocks

Led Zeppelin played last night. They rocked, apparently. And they did "In My Time of Dying" which means those tickets that went for something like $100,000 were totally worth it.

Full report here.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Free MP3 of new Bob Mould single

District LineHey, cool! Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar) will be releasing his seventh solo album early next year. And thanks to, you can get a free MP3 of the lead off single "The Silence Between Us".

Crazy Cool Grammy Nomination

So, like most fans of real music, I completely ignored yesterday's announcement of the Nominees for next year's Grammy awards. But then, this morning I'm scanning the news about my current favorite band and I could not believe my eyes.

Porcupine Tree has been nominated for a Grammy.

Seriously. Read that again. It's true. My amazement isn't because Porcupine Tree is undeserving. They should've been winning Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year in every year that they've released an album. I'm just absolutely amazed that someone in the Recording Academy has finally heard of Porcupine Tree.

Unfortunately, they are nominated for "Fear of a Blank Planet" in the Surround Sound category. This is category 95 out of 110 (and the list is roughly ordered in the order of categories that people most care about). And the usual stupidity of the rest of the nominations still applies this year as it has in so many other years.

But it's a start.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Man, this is weird

I work from a home office (so no commute) and I've got the house all rigged so that almost 100% of my music listening is done through MediaMonkey. MediaMonkey plugs my listening habits into So if you look at my profile, it's a very solid showing of what I've been listening to since joining in Jan 2006 (so almost 2 years worth).

My musical history, of course, goes back much further than the past two years. You can't really tell from my profile that I've actually listened to a ridiculous amount of Led Zeppelin, Beatles and Metallica in my lifetime. So, ok, whatever. Let's take a look at the last two years. It's interesting to see how my favorite bands of all time fare compared to new stuff I've been listening to lately.

So first, here are the favorites of all time (meaning they got lots of listens prior to 2006):
The Beatles, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Ramones, Pink Floyd, Jellyfish, Jars of Clay, Vangelis and Joe Satriani

Now let's look at my top most listened to artists of the past 2 years and see how these fare (the number in parentheses shows how many times I've listened to any song from that artist):
1. Jethro Tull (832) - Wow, I'm still listening to a lot of Tull. Part of this number being so high is that I went through and listened to every track in an effort to organize, catalog and rate them. Also, they have a lot of material. Also, they're awesome.

2. Porcupine Tree (707) - I was introduced to them in spring 2005, so relative newcomers. They are, in fact, now one of my favorite bands of all time. It's obvious that they are so high because they are a new favorite. Also, they're awesome.

3. Vangelis (555) - This is up there because it's great music to listen to while working. Also, he's awesome.

4. The Beatles (479) - Their complete awesomeness means they'll always be up near the top in listens. Also, this high number in the past two years has a lot to do with introducing my kids to them, whereas the Jethro Tull number is mostly made up of listening without the kids around. I've yet to really play Tull for the family much.

5. Rush (389) - This was a bit of a surprise. I haven't felt like I've been into Rush lately as much as I was in high school and college. I attribute this to the organizing and rating exercise. Although, there are some key Rush tracks that my 7-yr-old son loves.

6. Jars of Clay (379) - Every album is different and every album is good. So they get lots of listens even nowadays. Plus it helps that they are safe to play around all the kids.

7. Genesis (283) - I also did the organizing and rating with these guys (they have a lot less output than Tull, though). I haven't yet played much of Genesis for the family, though.

8. "Weird Al" Yankovic (248) - This is weird, eh? Here's what happened: (1) My kids really got into Weird Al this past summer and (2) he's awesome!

9. Led Zeppelin (215) - Here again, I haven't really pushed this on the kids yet. So this is from organizing and rating the songs. They're still awesome, though!

10. Jellyfish (182) - For a band that only put out two albums to be in the top 10 really says something. They will always be perfect to listen to anytime.

That's the top 10. Here are some surprises: Aerosmith and Van Halen (which were favorites in high school and college) are in the top 20 and higher than Pink Floyd. I haven't been feeling much in the mood for Aerosmith or Van Halen so not sure how that happened. Also, Pink Floyd is good for listening while working, so I need to play them some more. Poor Metallica is way down at #42, below ZZ Top, Billy Joel and Phil Collins. Can you believe that? And that's even counting the fact that in the last two years I've really rediscovered my love of metal. "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard is in the top 20 of most listened to songs. What? I dunno. My most listened to Rush song is "Force Ten", but that is not one of the ones that my son is playing all the time. My most listened to Genesis song is "The Knife". Wow! It'll be interesting to see how that stat changes once I start trying to get my kids into them. Which era will I push first? Gabriel? Hackett? The Good 3? The Pop 3? If you know me, you might be able to guess the answer.

It's also funny that, according to, my listening habits are most closely matched by a 16-year-old girl in Brazil, a 14-year-old guy in Norway and a 25-year-old in Austria. Small world.

Being a database guy and a stats nerd, it's fun to see these kinds of stats about my listening habits. Maybe for you, not so much. So... sorry for the self-indulgent diversion. We'll be back with more news and other stuff soon.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Review Round-up: "Raising Sand" by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss is something of a fiddle phenom and a big force in the small bluegrass revival of the '90s. And, of course, her work on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack really helped her break out into the mainstream. Robert Plant needs no introduction. Right? Ok, good.

My friend, Steve, down the street who is not particularly into music, but who knows that I am, pointed out a small blurb in a magazine he had about a new album called "Raising Sand" that was a Krauss/Plant collaboration. Being familiar with both artists, I was immediately intrigued. I've listened through it once so far and I have to say "Amazing".

Let's have a look at what others have to say:
From Thom Jurek at

What seems to be an unlikely pairing in the duo of former -- and future apparently -- Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant and bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss is actually one of the most effortless-sounding pairings in modern popular music. The bridge seems to be producer T-Bone Burnett and the band assembled for this outing. ... These two voices meld together seamlessly; they will not be swallowed even when the production is bigger than the song. They don't soar, they don't roar, they simply sing songs that offer different shades of meaning as a result of this welcome collaboration.

From Robert Christgau at (who gave it 3.5 out of 5):

Skilled and inspired though it is, Raising Sand's relaxed, smoky harmonies and reverbed midtempo rockabilly don't always achieve the back-porch revelation they're going for. But they do both icons a world of good.

He is rightly rebutted by reader "ffnb1086" who says:

Two artists that people would never think to pair together actually fit together like the pieces of an odd, but beautiful puzzle. You can hear Robert Plant's distinct style of interpretation and Alison Krauss' at the same time and they blend wonderfully. T Bone Burnett fantastic production and song selection is the hand that put the puzzle together.... There is a "back-porch revelation" in this album (which Christgau didn't notice, among many things) and that's the revelation that two artists, of completely different styles, can still have a common thread that binds them; and the measure of true artistry is how well the two of them can exploit that thread and show how beautiful it can be.

From Alanna Nash at (who describes the album as "haunting and brilliant"):

Plant and Krauss trade out the solo and harmony vocals, and while they both venture into new waters here (Krauss as a mainstream blues mama, Plant as a gospel singer and honkytonker), she steals the show in Sam Phillips' new "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," where a dramatic violin and tremulous banjo strike a foreboding gypsy tone. When Krauss begins this strange, seductive song in a voice so ethereal that angels will take note, you may stop breathing. That, among other reasons, makes Raising Sand an album to die for.

From General Jabbo at

Backed by a crack band including Marc Ribot, Norman Blake, Mike Seeger, Jay Bellerose, and Dennis Crouch, Raising Sand sounds at once familiar and new. Two forces in their own right, Plant and Krauss combine to make something fresh and exciting. With rumors of a tour, the possibilities of Plant and Krauss reinterpreting each other’s catalogs makes this pairing even more intriguing. If Raising Sand is any indication, theirs could be the must-see tour of 2008.

Finally, metacritic rounded up 18 reviews (including a few I quoted here) to arrive at a score of 88 out of 100 (which is currently the 4th best score of any 2007 album they've covered).

Dream Theater: Game with Fame

dt logo
Dream Theater is this month's featured artist on Xbox Live (the on-line marketplace/gaming community used by the Xbox360). To promote the new "Xbox Originals" line (the ability to download classic Xbox games directly to your 360 for $15 each), the guys in Dream Theater will be online this Wed. Dec 5 from 5 - 7pm EST playing "Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge".

For more details and a list of Dream Theater's gamertags, check out

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Super Furry Animals to give away free Christmas MP3

From NME:

Super Furry Animals are to release a free MP3 of 'The Gift That Keeps Giving' as a Christmas present for fans.

The package, available to download on December 25, also includes an exclusive b-side and brand new artwork by Japanese artist Keiichi Tanaami, who created the cover art for the song's parent album 'Hey Venus!'.