Monday, September 2, 2013

V/A: Midnight In L.A. - The Best Of Westcoast Vol. 2 (2013)

For fans of my last 70's-to-modern-day Westcoast compilation, I've assembled a completely new cast of killer gems from the 70's through the present day for the second volume in this series. Whether you like your L.A. yacht rock with a Hammond spiced dash of prog. rock ('Between The Lines'), atmospheric horn-drenched ballads ('You Are The Light', 'No Way Out') or even if you just need a groove to burn the highway down ('Let It Go', 'Simone', the instrumental 'Midsummer Drivin'), there's something here for everyone!


1. 'Between The Lines' by Lake
2. 'Time Out Of Mind' by Steely Dan
3. 'Get U 2 Stay' by Brian McKnight
4. '1978 (Leave The Radio On)' by Ed Motta
5. 'You (Are The Light)'  by George Duke
6. 'Shakin' The Ground' by Ole Børud
7. 'Melanie' by Player
8. 'Reach Out Richard' by Mayer Hawthorne
9. 'Simone' by Boz Scaggs
10. 'The Colours Of Your Love' by Stylus
11. 'Hard Goodbye' by State Cows
12. 'Give Some More' by Solution
13. 'No Way Out' by Paul Anka
14. 'Brother To Brother' by Gino Vannelli
15. 'Let It Go' by Toto
16. 'Midsummer Drivin' by Toshiki Kadomatsu

Get It Here!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

REVIEW: Queensrÿche - Queensrÿche (2013)

It's official folks: after what feels like centuries, one of progressive metal's pioneers are finally back on track! And I'll be damned if it's not one of the best comeback albums I've ever had the pleasure to listen to, much less own. No more drama, no more Geoff Tate....just a great bunch of guys doing the music they know and love.

But I digress: I just got this sucker not too long ago in the mail, but I've spun it enough to say with 1000% confidence that it's the best album these guys have done since 1994's Promised Land, possibly even Empire.

And speaking of Empire, that's the album that came to mind most when listening through this new self-titled (the cover art being a nod to it as well): Michael Wilton (the founding guitarist alongside Chris DeGarmo) was a big factor in that particular album's more anthemic cuts like 'Resistance' and the title track, and he's gotten to stretch his riffage muscles more here than he's gotten to in ages! Furthermore, Scott Rockenfield, guitarist Parker Lundgren, Eddie Jackson and drummer-turned vocal powerhouse Todd La Torre have a chemistry that rivals anything we've had since '91...and that's not something you can say about just any ol' comeback record!

Despite lacking a bit of the diverse, nuanced touches of variety that DeGarmo brought to the QR table with his more classic pop/rock tastes back in the late 80's/early 90's, there's a helluva lot to like here: a great deal of it might even work on radio (the Rage For Order-ish 'Don't Look Back', Operation: Mindcrime-reminiscent stomper 'Redemption' and the blistering 'Fallout' being my three main picks) but you also, surprisingly enough, get a foray into power metal with the sizzling 'Vindication' and two really snappy, cinematic mid-tempo hair raisers in the form of 'A World Without' and closing number 'Open Road'. Nothing overstays its welcome...hell, you might find yourself salivating for more as the last notes fade out.

Going back to Todd for a moment: this is his debut album as a vocalist, and he really brings the bacon here. Others have likened him more to original Crimson Glory frontman Midnight (R.I.P.!) and a younger Bruce Dickinson more than Tate as far as intonation and delivery goes, and after you've spent some time with the album, you'll probably find yourself in agreement. He's got a lot of range and power, but he isn't emulating anyone in particular: if anything, he's a chameleon of sorts, an amalgamate of every great 80's metal pioneer and then some. Any of today's heavier outfits would be lucky to have him: we're just doubly fortunate that he happens to be in Queensrÿche's present!

In conclusion: there was no way that this album was going to please everyone, but it really is interesting to hear, for the first time in fifteen years or more, QR actually sound alive, vital and most importantly, relevent in today's musicscape. They've brought everything we loved sonically from the EP through Promised Land and spiced things up with some 2000's melodic metal sensibilities. What more could you want really, especially when the QR brand itself is at stake in November?

PS: For those of you who will undoubtedly complain about the short running length....the band is already at work on the next record. Which will, according to them, have longer material that they couldn't finish in time for the self-titled. Definitely looking forward to that!!

Buy It Here!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

REVIEW: Shadows Of Our Souls - Sea Of Gold EP (2012)

A truly fantastic New Jersey reggae-rock project between two musically inclined brothers (Jeffrey and Jeremy King respectively), Shadows Of Our Souls put out this little gem of an EP, Sea Of Gold, on Soundcloud last year for any intrepid listener to experience. And if its of any indication, they're going to be a force to be reckoned with before a whole lot more time passes!

To elaborate, this set of tunes numbers seven, and even in that short space of music, its hard not to get taken in by their unique, laid back fusionized take on relaxation -- acoustic guitar idyllically riveting around some hip-hop texturing and the dazed, summery hip-hoppish banter and singing of the brothers themselves. 'The Crashing Tide' even featuring some nice, stoned out harmonizing that rises above some busy drum work and homegrown production. Incredibly promising stuff really, and yet another indication that some of the best stuff floating around there isn't being paraded around on Facebook giveaways or slick websites -- its the stuff being recorded by chill bros and thrown onto Soundcloud independently that the guys at the top need to be wary of...cause one day it'll rise up!

All that being said, anyone with a taste for something snazzy to smoke your next joint to would be wise to let Shadow Of Our Souls pay your browser (and your mind) a visit. Hell, you might even get just never know!

Check It Out Here!!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Attention Bands, Artists and Singer/Songwriters: Want Free Advertising and Money?

Sorry I haven't been updating as much as I used to, everyone. Life keeps me busy even when I'm not having fun, lol. Do not worry though: The Widening Eye remains watchful, and more content shall be added as time goes on. :)

That being said, I'm now in a position to offer a rather intriguing opportunity for all of you readers who are in a band, going solo, whatever. Basically, I'm currently interning with a company who is building this really interesting website that's going to launch in early June. This company is co-owned by some prominent celebrities, and its going to be reaching thousands upon thousands of people across the world....and these guys need a Music section for promising bands and artists to contribute to!

Basically, this site is going to have a Music section where you, (the band, the artist, etc.) can advertise your stuff for free. All you need to do is upload a song you want others to listen to/download. As more and more people listen to your song, it rises in rank in the Music section. Once it hits the #1 spot on page one, you'll get paid 99 cents a download (like ITunes). Here's the cool part though: if your song stays in that top spot for 5-7 win $10,000 in cash to use any way you want, no strings attached. And this is a weekly thing, so there's always another chance to win.

That being said, it doesn't cost any money or resources on your part to participate: all you need is a song to show off your talent. And even if you don't win, your getting free exposure and advertising to thousands of people who wouldn't know about you its definitely worth it either way.

I don't care what genre or style you consider yourself to be. If you are interested in participating and taking advantage of this opportunity to further your own musical careers...please email me at houlgrave0(at)gmail(dot)com. Be sure to include the contact information you prefer to be contacted through and whatever band name/artist name, etc. you want to be doing this as.

I'm not a musician myself, but this is part of me giving back to all of you for doing what you guys do best: playing your asses off and making great tunes in the process. Thanks for reading, and don't be afraid to drop me a line!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

REVIEW: Riverside - Shrine Of New Generation Slaves (2013)

Progressive Rock: a genus of rock n' roll which embodies instrumental, lyrical, compositional....progress through complexity I suppose. Bombastic suites, time changes, jazz and classical progressions: this is how we've boxed in many a great band since the style's heyday of the early-to-mid 70's. And yet this definition has been changing ever since the 80's: more kids today have been introduced to the "proggier" side of alternative musical styles by bands like Porcupine Tree, Muse and The Mars Volta since Y2K as opposed to Yes or Van Der Graaf Generator. These newer bands are simply better at incorporating other contemporary styles into the classic prog. rock architecture, and that's what moves merchandise. Overall result? The 2000's and beyond have been kinder to the genre than any other decade since the golden era, if not downright affluent.

And yet, we are living in a musical era where the old becomes new and vice versa, a trend never more prevalent or clear to see than in Poland's top progressive rock export, the magnificent and ever prodigious Riverside. Their Reality Dream Trilogy of albums (Out Of Myself, Second Life Syndrome and the particularly fantastic Rapid Eye Movement) are considered to be contemporary classics in the early 2000's 'nu-prog' canon, with each album being a vehicle for the gorgeous vocals of Mariusz Duda and his psychedelic blend of alternative rock atmospherics with a certain edge more akin to modern metal groups like Tool or Deftones.

So here we are in 2013 with long awaited opus Shrine Of New Generation Slaves (or S.O.N.G.S.), an absolutely gorgeous LP sitting somewhere between a condemnation and a concept record, a way station for sounds and ideas heading towards the modern world from an antiquated small town somewhere far behind where people still sing about fairies and jam on Hammond organs. And boy when it can hear the Earth's crust shifting beneath your speakers.

The past is inescapable, and its hard to deny that Pink Floyd is all over these wicked songs by accident, design and perhaps well-meaning coincidence. Less drugged out spaciness, more snow blind melancholia and the sort of luscious guitar contemplations that paint a sky grey, but I digress. The title track is bluesy, repetitive, and even fires up a bit about midway through. The blood really starts flowing when we come to 'The Depth Of Self Delusion' and 'Celebrity Touch' though: the former is chill yet armed to the teeth with a bassline that could crack concrete and the latter is a woodland headbanger with a killer chorus and some beautiful bridges to burn. What's not to like?

By the time we get to album anthem 'Feel Like Falling' and very dreamy 'Deprived (Irretrievably Lost Imagination)', I'm goddamn elated. Mariusz goes into falsetto of all things on 'Falling', and they bring in some glorious saxophone on the last couple of minutes on the latter of these two tracks....and I'm just wondering why the whole world can't be celebrating this album as much as I want to when these fantastic songs sweep over my room.

We close off S.O.N.G.S with a suite-de-grace in the form of 'Escalator Shrine' (which is what you're seeing on that thar album cover if I'm not mistaken). It's the penultimate statement of the record, a 12 minute promenade of lip-smackin' guitar solos, spacey Hammond mediation and enough jam to soak your toast from crust to crumble. Whew!

I could have asked for a better album to start 2013 off with nor a more splendid collection to introduce other people to the musical institution that is Riverside. Go buy the damn thing: they deserve every penny for something of this caliber.

Buy It Here!