Okay, we all know what a dumpster fire 2017 was from a political and social standpoint, so I’m just going to focus on the music here.
At the beginning of the year I released “Undercover”, a compiliation of all of the cover songs I’ve done over the last 10 years, including the very popular version of the Eurythmics’ “Missionary Man” I did with Deb Criveau, plus two new songs, “Need You Tonight” and “A Criminal Mind”. Undercover is available exclusively on Bandcamp.
While the middle of the year may have seemed like not much was going on, I was continuing to mix songs for other indie musicians like And Then There was One, plus helping Troy Adams with his ambitious concept album, while also continuing to run the weekly DIY Music Chat on Twitter, now heading into its third year!
I also got chances to see a whole host of great live bands, including Iron Maiden, Ghost, Dorothy, Devil in California, Zed, The Watchers, Thadeus Gonzalez, Truckfighters, Y&T, and more, hanging out with old friends and making some new ones.
This fall, I released a new single, Shadow Me, and am currently finishing up producing a video for it, which I hope to have out around the beginning of the year. Shadow Me and my last few releases can now be streamed on Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, and Amazon!
Of course, new music is in the works! I will have a new single in January, an EP out in the spring and hope to have a full length album available some time next year.
How was your 2017? Let me know what bands you saw, what were some of your favorites?
It’s February, and in San Francisco, that means two things. One, the beginning of allergy season, but more importantly, the long-awaited return of Strong Beer Month!
(No, I don’t know of anything else going on around here at the moment, why do you ask?)
Strong Beer Month is a collaboration between Magnolia Gastropub and 21st Amendment Brewery, where they collectively present 12 special strong beers brewed just for the occasion. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to drink all 12 and turn in your punch card to receive a commemorative glass before they run out. I have a small collection of the glasses but these days I just stick to sampling a few of the delicious brews. One of them is Magnolia’s Old Thunderpussy Barleywine, which inspired my song “Thunderpussy”.
Historical reference: Magnolia Thunderpussy was the legendary madam at the brothel where the Magnolia Gastropub on Haight Street resides. Yes, now it makes sense.
Your bonus – for the month of February, I am giving away my song “Thunderpussy (Salty Sweet Mix)” on Bandcamp! You can choose to pay for it if you like, or you can enter your email address and get it for free. It’s long been one of my most popular songs, let alone one of my best remixes. I won’t do anything with your email address except send an occasional newsletter. Good deal, eh? Happy February!
There’s an old friend in town We love when she comes… around We can’t wait to get down With that velvet brown pussy
She’s so salty sweet The taste will knock you off your feet So come in off the street And try to take the heat of
When Thunderpussy comes around Lick it up and suck it down You’ll howl and stomp your feet When you taste her salty sweet she’s
There’s an old friend in town We love when she comes… around
In a year when we sadly lost some of our most iconic artists, we were blessed with enough excellent hard rock and metal to choke big mouth Gene Simmons. It’s truly a golden age of rock and roll.
I’m not even going to get into what I think were the “best” albums of 2015. Best is subjective. These are the albums that I couldn’t get enough of, and they lived in my car CD player for weeks at a time. My top five of 2015:
The latest release from Maryland rockers Clutch is pure rock fury. Neil Fallon is the Rod Serling of rock and roll, spinning wildly imaginative tales of America’s fringe dwellers, and singing them with such passion you start to believe their surreal truth. Clutch is driven by the great groove drummer Jean-Paul Gaster, underpinned by bassist Dan Maines, and set on fire by pocket dweller Tim Sult on bluesy lead guitar. 25 years on, this blues rock band is running on all supercharged cylinders with no signs of letting off the gas. There is not a note out of place on this heavy, bluesy, kick ass record. It quickly and easily became my favorite of the year.
Clutch – X-Ray Visions
2. Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor
While in my mind “Antichrist Superstar” remains MM’s masterpiece of musical texture and dark thematic overtures, the Pale Emperor is a stripped down, mature and minimalist rock and roll record that is a distillation of all of Marilyn Manson’s best elements. It rocks, it grooves, it squeals and screams, it dances on clever turns of phrase as often as it drills angsty earworms into your brain. Lines like “I feel like a stranger came inside my mind and moved all my things around” make you wish you wrote them. Not a metal album, but a great one.
The debut album from ex-Ozzy guitarist Joe Holmes and crew is nothing short of outstanding. Lead singer Robbie Locke brings Chris Cornell to mind with his raspy range, Metallica’s Rob Trujillo lends his axe to the crew, and Joe with his killer lyrics and fretwork bring this all home in one can’t miss package. Can’t wait for them to put together a touring lineup and hitting the road. Meanwhile, they’re already working on the followup to this future classic.
Farmikos – Scapegoat
4. Ghost – Meliora
I didn’t get Ghost before this, either. Okay, the costumes were cool but what else ya got? Well, then I heard the first single off this album (Pinnacle to the Pit), and they had me hooked immediately. This is a band that thrives on their theatrical live shows and tight metal riffs and grooves, and for maybe the first time, mixer Andy Wallace brought the essence of Ghost to light. The melodic, anti-metal vocals throw some people off, but it’s a nod to the Swedish band’s AOR upbringing, listening to bands like Fleetwood Mac and Kansas at the same time as Swedish heavy metal. It’s like hearing ABBA and Children of Bodom together. I did see them live, and they rock hard. They also thrive on the theatricality, but not in a pyro pot kind of way. Just taking the church of music metaphor to the nines. Definitely worth seeing.
Local San Francisco hard rockers with a debut that is world-class in scope and execution. I know most people reading this haven’t heard of The Devil in California yet, but I have a feeling you will before long. They’re the kind of band that blows away headliners when they open. Led by vocal powerhouse Tony Malson, and featuring a dual attack from guitarists Jamie Cronander and Snake (ex of Skinlab), with Matt Stewart bringing both the bottom end and the high harmonies while Eddie Colmenares lays down the driving beat. The mix of talents and experience makes them sound like they’ve been around forever, but they manage to bring both maturity and freshness to the southern rock style. Fans of Winery Dogs, Black Label Society, Down, and Motor Sister will dig these guys.
Devil in California – Black Hand
Honorable mention: Motor Sister – Ride
Relentless, unapologetic rock and roll from this superstar tribute to Jim Wilson’s Mother Superior, featuring Anthrax’ Scott Ian and wife Pearl Aday, Armored Saint’s Joey Vera, White Zombie’s John Tempesta, and Jim Wilson on vocals. Even more amazing live, this group is balls out and having the time of their lives.