ANGELIC UPSTARTS: The Albums 1979-82 (5CD box) reviewed by The Chancellor

Somebody once told me that I should stop writing about Punk Rock. He said that I don’t ‘understand’ Punk and I should stick to writing about New Wave and other genres of music.

I beg to differ.

While I may not know enough about the politics that inspired the lyrics of various bands I listen to, I certainly understand my connection to the energy, the songwriting and the performances. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I devoured as much British and American Punk as I could. While The Clash, The Jam, 999, Buzzcocks, The Stranglers, The Undertones, Sex Pistols and others had songs that were instantly melodic and catchy, there were certain bands that took a few extra spins to connect with. Angelic Upstarts were one of those bands.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: MORCHEEBA/BLAZE AWAY

One of the most attractive features of the Trip Hop genre was it’s haunting quality. While closely associated with the Downtempo and Chill movements, the best Trip Hop provided beauty with an unsettling edge. Listening to Trip Hop should be like walking into an ancient mansion – you are wrapped in beauty but you can feel the presence of something else. The Chill is replaced by chills. And THAT is what makes Trip Hop special. And Morcheeba continues to be the genre’s most consistent and beloved bands – they put the ‘trip’ in Trip Hop.

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HOLLYWOOD BEYOND – IF (Deluxe 2CD Edition) reviewed by The Chancellor

The year 1987 was a transitional year for music. New Wave was no longer ‘new’, Prince had changed the Soul, R&B and Funk landscape and Rock ‘n’ Roll was in the clutches of the big hair brigade (Glam Metal). For some, it was depressing, but if you were the adventurous sort, you could find so many bright lights between all the nooks and crannies. Mark Rogers (AKA Hollywood Beyond) was one of those artists whose musical output shone brighter than most. His blend of Pop and R&B walked the thin line between both genres yet didn’t fall victim to either. Released in 1987, Hollywood Beyond’s only full-length album, IF, was an album that should have appealed to those that adored Terence Trent D’Arby and other like-minded artists that forged their own paths while paying homage to their influences.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE MYSTERY OF THE BULGARIAN VOICES/BOOCHEEMISH

While many musicians can wring emotion out of their instrumental weapon of choice, there’s no denying that the most emotional instrument of all is the human voice. The song’s melody and lyrics mean nothing if the voice does not connect with the listener. A notable example would be Gospel Music – the soaring voices of a church choir can melt the heart of the most hardened atheist. However, the best example belongs to The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices, a female choir that has mastered the art of the voice… and I don’t use the word ‘art’ lightly here. The sounds these voices make are soul-stirring and heartbreaking in equal measures.

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BART & THE BEDAZZLED’s Blue Motel reviewed!

Bear with me here…

Music can so often dictate my emotions.  It can literally transport me from one mood to another in the blink of a chord change. And this brings me to something that I call ‘3 A.M. Music’. How would I describe this style of music? Well, imagine that melancholy feeling you get when you are floating halfway between consciousness and sleep very late at night/early in the morning. Then, as you lie there and prepare to drift off into la-la land, you hear a magical song on the radio that gives you chills. It is so emotionally powerful that you want to leap out of bed and express love and thankfulness… yet you are paralyzed and lost in the music so you give in to it’s charm. Does that sound familiar to you?  Are you picking up what I’m laying down?  Well, this phenomenon that I refer to as ‘3 A.M. Music’ sends those melancholy feelings through my body at any given moment of the day when I hear certain chord changes. ‘3 A.M. Music’ connects every emotion in my body and while the overall outcome is melancholic, it is a truly powerful experience.

So, what the hell does this have to do with BLUE MOTEL, the brand-new album from Bart & The Bedazzled (Bart Davenport, Jessica Espeleta, Wayne Faler, and Andres Renteria)? Well, it seems that main man Bart Davenport has a patent on those kinds of chord changes that I love and he allows them to flow freely on this fine platter. This is sophisticated Pop music that combines elements of Soul, Power Pop, and Indie Rock. Imagine, if you will, hearing something off of the first album by The Ocean Blue mixed with early ‘70s Todd Rundgren, early ‘80s Scottish Pop (Aztec Camera/The Bluebells) and some tasty Yacht Rock for good measure. You can even throw in some Prefab Sprout for some extra zest. Not to mention a little John Barry (the guitar lick on “Halloween By The Sea” is reminiscent of the Midnight Cowboy theme). The album is a wonderful blend of sounds, styles and influences that span 50 years of Pop Music history. And thankfully, Bart & Co. manage to make it all sound cohesive inspiring and most certainly unique.

BLUE MOTEL is an album filled with moody and melodic Pop that will appeal to anyone with an ear for a great melody and a heart for honest music-making.  The Glen Campbell-like guitar riffs on “The House That Built Itself” are a treat. “Life Under Water” is haunting and lovely. “The Amateurs” is a new Yacht Rock classic that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Player album. “Grown Ups” is beefy Twee Pop with some Rundgren soulfulness. The album’s closer, “Vampire,” is stunning in it’s simplicity and emotional depth.  Davenport’s vocals drip with emotion on this track – and throughout the album for that matter.

Simply put, BLUE MOTEL is one of the best albums of the year.

Keep on truckin’,

Stephen SPAZ Schnee

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: FATOUMATA DIAWARA/FENFO

Fatoumata Diawara is a highly acclaimed singer, songwriter, guitarist and actress from Mali. Her journey began when she was born in the Ivory Coast and has included stints in her father’s dance troupe, as an actress on stage and screen, as a singer in Paris night clubs and as a show-stealing performer at a star-studded tribute concert at Carnegie Hall. All of these experiences inform her sophomore effort FENFO, an album born from tradition yet entirely modern and unique. The long-awaited follow-up to her 2011 debut full-length, FATOU, FENFO lives up to the promise of that debut… and then some.

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FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH returns with AND JUSTICE FOR NONE!

 

Five Finger Death Punch has unleashed “When The Season’s Change,” marking the most massive, melodic song in their repertoire yet, the new song is off the group’s album AND JUSTICE FOR NONE, due out May 18.  A brash bloodletting of airtight riffs, muscular grooves, and seismic melodies, AND JUSTICE FOR NONE’s 13 tracks see Five Finger Death Punch maintain their signature intensity, all while pushing themselves into new territory.

On AND JUSTICE FOR NONE, the quintet—Ivan Moody [vocals], Zoltan Bathory [guitar], Jeremy Spencer [drums], Jason Hook [guitar], and Chris Kael [bass]—fuel the beating bloody heart of 21st century hard rock. Once again, the group hunkered down in its home base of Las Vegas with longtime producer Kevin Churko [Ozzy Osbourne, Disturbed] behind the board a year after GOT YOUR SIX. In the studio, they collectively stepped up their game as a unit. “We just understand each other so well,” says Jeremy Spencer. “There’s a huge level of respect on both sides. He gets the best out of us.”

Five Finger Death Punch’s current single, “Gone Away” (their own rendition of The Offspring’s 1997 hit single) has received over 27 million streams in the U.S., is currently charting #2 on Active Rock and topped the iTunes rock and metal charts globally. Earlier this month, the group released “Fake” (out 4/6) which generated just under 1 million streams in the U.S. during its first week and made the viral chart on Spotify in multiple countries.

5FDP will be hitting the road for a massive series of co-headlining North American dates with Breaking Benjamin this summer, along with special guests Nothing More and Bad Wolves. The summer amphitheater tour, co-produced by Live Nation and Frank Productions, kicks off on July 16, 2018 in Seattle, WA and will make stops in 32 North American cities.

FIVE FINGERS DEATH PUNCH

AND JUSTICE FOR NONE

5.18.18

 

Catch Five Finger Death Punch on tour in the following cities:

5FDP Spring Festival Dates 

5/5/18 – Carolina Rebellion – Concord, NC

5FDP/Shinedown Spring US Tour Dates

5/6/18 – Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN

5/8/18 – Rupp Arena – Lexington, KY

5/10/18 – BOK Center – Tulsa, OK

5/11/18 – Westfair Amphitheatre – Council Bluffs, IA

5/12/18 – Eagles Ballroom – Milwaukee, WI *

5/14/18 – Salem Civic Center – Salem, VA

5/16/18 – Legacy Arena – Birmingham, AL

5/17/18 – Ford Center– Evansville, IN

5/18/18 – Mark of the Quad – Moline, IL

5/20/18 – Alerus Center – Grand Forks, ND

5/30/18 – Casper Events Center – Casper, WY

Five Finger Death Punch

5/29/18 – Red Rocks Amphitheater – Morrison, CO

6/1/18 – Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel – Deadwood, SD

6/2/18 – KQRC Rockfest – Kansas City, MO

6/14-6/16– Montebello Rockfest – Montebello, SC

Five Finger Death Punch + Breaking Benjamin Summer Tour Dates:

* – 5fdp & Bad Wolves only/ ** – 5fdp, Breaking Benjamin & Bad Wolves only

7/16/18 – White River Amphitheatre – Seattle, WA **

7/18/18 – Spokane Arena – Spokane, WA **

7/20/18 – Taco Bell Arena – Boise, ID

7/21/18 – USANA Amphitheatre – Salt Lake City, UT

7/24/18 – Shoreline Amphitheatre – San Francisco, CA

7/25/18 – Mattress Firm Amphitheatre – San Diego, CA

7/27/18 – FivePoint Amphitheater – Irvine, CA

7/29/18 – Isleta Amphitheater – Albuquerque, NM **

8/1/18 – Austin360 Amphitheater – Austin, TX

8/3/18 – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion – Houston, TX **

8/4/18 – Starplex Pavilion – Dallas, TX

8/6/18 – BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove – Southaven, MS

8/7/18 – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre – St. Louis, MO

8/9/18 – Heritage Park Amphitheatre – Simpsonville, SC

8/11/18 – MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre – Tampa, FL

8/12/18 – Verizon Amphitheatre – Atlanta, GA

8/14/18 – KeyBank Pavilion – Pittsburgh, PA

8/15/18 – BB&T Pavilion – Camden, NJ

8/17/18 – The Pavilion at Montage Mountain – Scranton, PA

8/18/18 – Xfinity Center – Boston, MA

8/20/18 – Budweiser Stage – Toronto, ON

8/22/18 – Lakeview Amphitheater – Syracuse, NY **

8/24/18 – Jiffy Lube Live – Bristow, VA

8/25/18 – PNC Bank Arts Center – Holmdel, NJ **

8/28/18 – Riverbend Music Center – Cincinnati, OH

8/29/18 – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre – Chicago, IL

8/31/18 – Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center – Indianapolis, IN **

9/1/18 – DTE Energy Music Theatre – Detroit, MI

9/3/18 – Darien Lake Amphitheater – Darien Center, NY

9/6/18 – Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater – Wantagh, NY **

9/7/18 – XFINITY Theatre – Hartford, CT

9/9/18 – Blossom Music Center – Cleveland, OH **

About Five Finger Death Punch

Confidently leading heavy music in the 21st century, Five Finger Death Punch continue to make the impossible a reality at every turn. Since their emergence in 2007, the hard rock band has achieved six consecutive RIAA Gold-certified albums, three of which have gone Platinum since, as well as a Platinum single culminating in their 2015 #1 album GOT YOUR SIX, while at the same time being one of the top rock streaming acts with over 2 billion global streams to date. In 2016, the band also received the prestigious “Soldier Appreciation Award” from The Association of The United States Army. 5FDP frequently play all major festivals globally from Download to Rock Am Ring to Rock on the Range and sell out arenas around the world to countless screaming “Knuckleheads.” Their 2017 Greatest Hits album A DECADE OF DESTRUCTION, boasts two new singles, amongst them “Gone Away”, a cover of the 1997 song by The Offspring which is currently storming the rock charts. 5fdp’s forthcoming seventh full length album, AND JUSTICE FOR NONE, to be released on May 18, 2018 will undoubtedly raise the bar again. The band will emerge on the biggest North American amphitheater rock tour of 2018 from July through September.

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: SOFI TUKKER/TREEHOUSE

Although there is a dark side lurking beneath the surface, the music of Electronic duo Sofi Tukker is upbeat, fun and adventurous. While the duo’s music is aimed for the feet, there’s certainly a lot to wrap our head around. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let me introduce you to Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern AKA Sofi Tukker. Their name may evoke the spirit of legendary stage/screen/radio icon Sophie Tucker, but this duo’s music is world’s away from the original Sophie’s bawdy burlesque. Sofi Tukker’s two-year journey to their debut album, TREEHOUSE, has included a Grammy nomination, loads of great press and a coveted iPhone 7 commercial spot. Other artists toil away in obscurity for years, anxiously awaiting their time in the spotlight. However, Sofi Tukker’s combination of Pop smarts and luck have put them on the fast track to the front of the line.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: RITA COOLIDGE/SAFE IN THE ARMS OF TIME

Rita Coolidge has been an important piece of Rock’s tapestry for nearly 50 years. She’s been a muse, a mover and shaker, a songwriter, a performer, a humanitarian, an artist, an author and an icon ever since she was ‘discovered’ by Delaney & Bonnie all those years ago. From backup singer to uncredited songwriter of one of Rock’s greatest songs (she co-wrote the piano coda for Derek & The Dominos’ “Layla,” yet has never received proper credit) and from solo artist to wife of Kris Kristofferson, Rita has been a part of nearly every important musical movement since her arrival on the scene in 1969. She even scored many solo hits including her warm and wonderful interpretation of Boz Scaggs’ “We’re All Alone.” When she stepped away from the solo spotlight, she formed Walela, a Native American trio with her sister Priscilla and her daughter Laura Satterfield.

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THE TOY DOLLS: The Chancellor reviews the 5CD set, THE ALBUMS: 1983-87

Looney tunes, indeed!

The chaps in The Dickies have a wicked sense of humor and The Adicts know how to have fun as well… but The Toy Dolls are the true court jesters of Punk Rock. So, if you are looking for a good time, you can either call one of those phone numbers written on the bathroom wall or you can do the right thing and hustle on down to your local Pop shop and grab THE ALBUMS: 1983-87, a delicious five CD box set that gathers together the first four albums by The Toy Dolls as well as a fifth disc of rarities!

Led by the always excitable Olga (AKA Michael Algar), The Toy Dolls has gone through several line-up changes over the years but they’ve never lost the spunk ‘n’ spittle that made them so fun when they released their debut album DIG THAT GROOVE BABY in 1983. While some may have thought of the band’s music as a parody or a humorous homage to Punk, there’s no doubt that Olga and the boys are true Punk rockers. However, they just chose to take Punk – and everything else for that matter – a lot less seriously than everyone around them. This debut includes classic tracks like “Glenda And The Test Tube Baby,” “Dougie Giro,” “Up The Garden Path,” “Stay Mellow”, the title track and “Nellie The Elephant.” While some may be put off by the over-the-top goofiness of the band’s approach to Punk, their catchy melodies and exceptional musicianship cannot be denied.

Two years later, the band released A FAR OUT DISC, another hook-filled Punk fiesta. Highlights include “My Girlfriend’s Dad’s A Vicar,” “We’re Mad” and so many others.  IDLE GOSSIP was released in 1986 followed a year later by BARE FACED CHEEK. On both albums, Olga leads his crew through some thrilling and entertaining Punk nuggets. No matter what, The Toy Dolls’ music was always refreshing, exciting and inspiring. The first album may be their most popular full-length but the band are always reliable when it comes to making great records and each and every one of these albums needs to be experienced.

The fifth disc here is chock full of non-album tracks including 7” version, songs from compilations and so much more. This final CD includes the ‘hit’ version of “Nellie The Elephant” that received the most airplay over here in the U.S. There’s more fun involved including the smile/dance/sweat-inducing “Everybody Jitterbug.” Crazy, cool and fun, The Toy Dolls may never get the same respect as bands like The Clash, but they certainly deserve your attention!

Look, if you prefer your Punk political and/or pretentious, go elsewhere.  If you want some hook-filled, shout-along Punk anthems with a sense of humor, then THE TOY DOLLS will satisfy all of your cravings. Ten fold. Captain Oi and Cherry Red have given us yet another set that should occupy a very sacred place in your collection!

(NOTE: The first four discs in this set represent the original albums when first released. They do NOT contain bonus tracks. However, all the bonus tracks from previous CD reissues of these albums are gathered on Disc Five).

Keep on truckin’,

Stephen THE CHANCELLOR Schnee