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Jul 272012

Gene Simmons of KISSKISS is heading to Orlampa as part of “The Tour” with opener / co-headliner Motley Crue. I’ve been a KISS fan since I was a kid. My upstairs neighbor in Brooklyn was 10 in 1979 and I was 4. I remember walking into his room and every inch of wall space was covered with KISS posters. This is pretty cool since his Italian parents barely knew any English. I was mesmerized. At 4 years old, they were more than a band, they were gods – these massive, mysterious beings that were simultaneously scary and alluring – kind of like a fat naked girl. I remember going to Richard’s (that was his name) birthday party where he got ALIVE II as one of his gifts. While the traditional party happenings played out I sat on the couch staring at the cover. I could not stop looking at the image of Gene Simmons drenched in sweat, makeup cracking, blood running down his chin and throat, and bathed in the blue stage light. My musical fate was sealed. Although soon after this was the point that KISS started to lose credibility with some fans I embraced them and all the hair metal they spawned through the 80s.

It can be argued that their music through their 4th album, the double-live ALIVE (everybody knows your 4th record is supposed to be a double-live album), was its purest and most original. Some may lean on their apogee, from Destroyer through Alive II, a time when they ruled the planet. Personally I loved them through 1979s Dynasty. They caught so much shit for the disco twist to that album, but listening to it again reveals a pretty charged pop rock record. These guys basically took the band they idolized (early Beatles) then amped it up. Early KISS is essentially “I Want to Hold Your Hand” with leather, flash bombs, and loud guitar. Their larger than life persona was the next evolution of teenage rock idols eclipsing the Fab 4 by becoming interstellar comic book anti-heroes.

Then the makeup came off:

This began a new era both musically and stylistically. They now competed with a new wave of bands in a genre they helped create. Hair metal, cock rock – whatevs – was the norm. The overblown 60s pop approach was not going to work anymore. While some bands still relied on theatrics, many bigger, louder, and more technically proficient bands came along. Screeching, whaling guitar heroics opened the door for groups that were a little more complex than KISS. Instead of KISS thriving in their own unique realm, bands that were not only influenced by KISS, but Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath and AC/DC appeared. The lessons learned from these bands created a more rich landscape for new bands to draw from. This led to KISS appearing somewhat sophmoric to some metal fans. Without the novelty of their makeup KISS struggled for relevance but built up so much clout that they were able to sally forth despite constant line-up changes and bedazzled outfits. They still managed to put out good songs in the 13 year period without makeup before they realized they could go back to the gimmick even though we all know what they look like.

I feel compelled to list “Shandi” from Unmasked, but they technically had not removed their makeup yet. I also want to list “War Machine” from Creatures of the Night because the first time I got Creatures on cassette it was the re-released version featuring the band without makeup on the cover. It also had guitarist, Bruce Kulick, in the picture even though he joined the band 3 years after that album was released. To chronicle non-makeup songs one has to start with ’83′s Lick it Up. This is where they were officially unmasked. This moment was ahead of the guitar “shredder” revolution and Gene and Paul didn’t realize what they had in Vinnie Vincent (the first replacement for Ace Frehley) and they literally had to restrain him from going apeshit on the ax. There were some personality issues too, but Gene and Paul weren’t ready to deal with any competition for the spotlight, nor did the anticipate the sea change in rock. I would like to pick “On the 8th Day” but “Exciter” still had the aura of KISS and was the first song on the first album without makeup. Vinnie’s guitar gave the song and album some credibility and “Exciter” still embodied the mythical rock god image they once possessed. UPDATE: The venerable Steve Schneider, @Schneider_Stv - humorist and most knowledgeable KISS fan alive, noted, “You picked the only song on Lick it Up that Vinnie didn’t play the solo on! It’s Rick Derringer!”


Listen to Exciter

This is a single so I’m not really reaching here, but it is – without a doubt – the best song on Animalize. This is a great tune and a hair metal prototype. After Vinnie Vincent was fired, Mark St. John – another shredder – joined the band for this album before crippling arthritis (and I’m sure there were personality issues) forced him to leave.

“Heaven’s on Fire” 

Listen to Heaven's on Fire

Yet another single, but a truly strong track that is much more than a cock rock song from 1985. “Uh All Night” and “Who Wants to be Lonely” are pretty good but don’t stand the test of time. They were the other two songs in the KISS trifecta method. Every KISS album after 1977 is built around three singles and a series of filler songs. This is also the first official album for Bruce Kulick, a terrific hard rock guitar nerd that lacked any sort charisma or stage presence and that suited Gene and Paul just fine. Bruce was just happy to be working and take orders.

“Tears are Falling” 

Listen to Tears are Falling

It was hard not to pick “Crazy Nights” or even “Turn on the Night” but “No, No, No” is actually the better song here and stands out 25 years later.

“No, No, No” 

Listen to No, No, No

“Unholy” is a great song but it reflects a time KISS got a little harder in an effort to stay relevant. “God Gave Rock ‘n Roll to You” – although a cover – represents some of late KISS’ best work. And the addition of Eric Singer finally gave KISS a world class pro behind the drums. Yes, the great Anton Fig is amazing but we’re not supposed to know he was drumming for them.

“God Gave Rock ‘n Roll to You” 

Listen to God Gave Rock n' Roll to You

The albums KISS put out since returning to the makeup are mostly unremarkable, but I will always stand by them as one of the coolest rock bands in history.

KISS and Motley Crue are playing the Ask Ax Gary Amphitheater in Tampa tomorrow

Jul 182012

Swedish band, Refused, comcert review from AtlantaRefused was a short-lived Swedish band of incredible talent. Their penchant for blending scream-o punk with heavy metal and dashes of electronica and alt rock was progressive and unmatched in the mid to late 90s. Fourteen years after calling it quits in the midst of a nightmarish tour for The Shape of Punk to Come, the band stood onstage in the city where they ended it all. It was prior to their 1998 gig in Atlanta that they decided to disband and declared, “Refused Are Fucking Dead.”

The irony was staggering as they kicked off the brief US leg of their reunion tour and so was the performance. Refused absolutely killed. Music that relies heavily on the combination of emotional intensity and machine-like precision was firing on all cylinders. Refused was loud. Singer, Dennis Lyxzen, – dressed to the nines – screamed and howled like Iggy Pop and strutted like Mick Jagger. Drummer, David Sandstrom, is a god-dammed force of nature and drove the show with a punk-y jazz-metal brilliance. The band was tight although the set was short at one hour and fifteen minutes, but hey – what more do you want from a bunch of communists?

Concert Video from the Refused Show:

Possibly my favorite song, “Hook, Line, and Sinker”:

They brought the place down with “New Noise”:

Jul 162012

anthrax performing at Mayhem Fest in Atlanta
Aaron’s Amphitheater formerly Hi-Fi Buys, formerly Lakewood hosted some sort of metal festival, but alls I knows is Slayer, Anthrax and Motorhead played.

Slayer on stage at Mayhem Fest in Atlanta, GA
Anthrax again got a much lower slot on the totem pole than deserved. This is Anthrax with fucking Belladonna! They headlined the smaller Jagermeister stage and summarily kicked ass with the less than generous 40 minute set they were given.

Scotty Ian and Joey Belladonna of Anthrax live at Mayhem in Atlanta

rockin banana man at Anthrax
Scott Ian of Anthrax in Atlanta

Motorhead is, well, fucking Motorhead and it was cool to see Lemmy scream up into the high perch of his signature mic stand.

Lemmy of Motorhead at Mayhem Fest in Atlanta

SLAYER! Have you ever noticed how no one can just say “Slayer.” It’s always “SLAYER!!” And more often its, “FUCKING SLAYER!!” There is a reason these grandaddy’s of metal evoke such a strong response. They eviscerate. Even without Jeff Hanneman – the ying to Kerry King’s yang – they were fast, precise, and raging stealing the show as they always do. Hanneman, who is recovering from a spider bite that caused a rare flesh eating condition called necrotising fasciitis, which almost resulted in the amputation of his hand, was replaced by Exodus guitarist, Gary Holt. How fucking metal is that? A flesh eating disease that eats the skin, muscle, and fat from the inside and caused by a spider bite! Look for the song, “Spiderbite” on Slayer’s new album, Necrotising Fasciitis this Fall.

Slayer live at Mayhem Fest in Atlanta
Slayer in Atlanta
Tom Araya and Kerry King of Slayer in Atlanta
Slayer on stage at Mayhem Fest in Atlanta, GA

Jul 102012

Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast

Best Coast kicked off their tour in support of their new album, The Only Place, here on the east coast at The Social in Orlando, Florida. Touring as a 4-piece, Bethany Cosentino and crew cranked up the volume adding a pair of swinging balls to their sundrenched 60s inspired AM radio pop. I’m hung up on how many people are actually in the band when an indie buzz band shows up in town because all too often it’s a 2-piece and the second piece is usually a laptop. I’m so tired of that! Well Best Coast rocked it impressively.

Check Out the Full Review with More Video and Pics at Suburban Apologist

One of the the night’s highlights which included impromptu requests from the crowd and a Fleetwood Mac cover was chosen. It was followed by one of the best songs on the new album, “Do You Love Me Like You Used To”

Bethany of Best Coast in Orlando

Best Coast in Orlando
Bethany of Best Coast at The Social
Bobb Bruno of Best Coast

Bethany and Bobb of Best Coast
Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast

Jul 082012

Dylan Miles, 6 year-old drummer on stage in OrlandoDrumming sensation and future thunder god, Dylan Frechette, aka Dylan Miles aka Dizzles aka The Dylan Miles Experience, teamed up with Rion Smith, drummer of the now defunct Shak Nasti and all around journeyman percussionist for an incredible drum duet at The Plaza Theater Live in Orlando, Florida. The concert was a throw down and local talent jam session in honor of Rion’s 39th birthday, but little Dylan stole the show.

Dylan doesn’t have a band yet but he transforms every session and performance with other musicians into the Dylan Miles Experience. On a particularly prolific weekend for a kindergartner on summer vacation, Dylan laid the foundation for a cover of Phish’s “Fluffhead” with Andrew Ranieri, former frontman, lead guitarist, and co-founder of Orlando band, Sonor, then worked into a blues groove with local greats, Shak Nasti: