BellerBytes "Recommended Holiday Listening" List
I'd like to continue a hoilday tradition I started last year, in which I write
an e-mail to my faithful (and incredibly understanding) BellerBytes subscribers
that is, for a change, completely not about me.
This year I'd like to
tell you about some music that others have shared with me. I get a lot of music
sent my way these days, partially because I'm a CD reviewer for Bass Player Magazine, but also just because
people want me to hear what they're up to, which I really appreciate. Some of it's
really good, and I thought it would be cool to tell you about a few discs you may
want to check out for yourselves. Genre-wise, the list doesn't lack for variety.
Hopefully there's something in here you'll dig.
Remember, this isn't
a "Top 10" list or anything like that. It doesn't even focus on actual
commercial releases. It's just cool stuff made by folks I know, and I'd like to
help spread the word about them.
So, in the holiday spirit, here's the
BellerBytes "Recommended Holiday Listening" list for 2010:
Dave Weiner, On Revolute - Steve Vai's
longtime rhythm/harmony guitarist (who was in the band when I toured with Vai in
2007) wrote 11 epic tunes for his new album, totaling 76 minutes of multi-layered
guitar goodness. Vai and other guitar-hero fans certainly won't be disappointed
in the playing, which is great and *sounds* great as well. But Weiner has a compositional
sound all his own that's worth checking out - and not just because I'm playing fretless
on one tune.
Andrew Vait, The Pros And Cons Of Drowning
- Kira and I did a house concert at his house in Seattle, and he opened up the show
with an unexpected jolt. A classic singer/songwriter/guitarist, Vait fills the six
pop/rock tunes on this CD with considerable urgency, great singing, and killer songwriting.
Totally worth checking out.
Buttafuko, The Black Album - the first
track is called "The Revenge Of The Illegitimate Buttafuko Child," and
it goes downhill from there...in a good, delightfully obscene way. The 20 tunes
on this disc sound like what Stormtroopers Of Death might have been if they took
themselves even less seriously. It's power trio metal, but somehow it comes off
as slightly punk as well. Led by a Seattle-area metal enthusiast and proud ne'er-do-well
named Hodgy, Buttafuko is for anyone who digs Zappa-style humor wrapped in a rough
Chris Opperman, The Lionheart - this
is no-excuses, progressive/fusion, mad-genius-style material with a heavy emphasis
on Opperman's frenetic piano. For anyone who's into the Steve Vai/Mike Keneally
branch of Zappa-influenced instrumental music and doesn't know about Chris Opperman
already: you really should.
Cosyns - North Carolina is home to
one of the best extreme metal guitarist/composers you've probably never heard of.
I met Derek Corzine while working on a metal album for a project called Quester,
which hopefully will come out one day. Until then, Meshuggah fans must
check out what he's up to on his own. The tunes are actually Christian based, but
believe me, "Ominous Redemption" and "Satan In Flames" are still
musically brutal beyond description. I'm pretty sure they have an EP out.
Paul Gilbert, Fuzz Universe - the
honorable Mr. Gilbert certainly doesn't need me to spread the word about his better-than-ever
shredding, but I come to praise the bassist on this CD, Craig Martini, who infuses the whole
disc with some seriously ballsy rock tone, and supports Gilbert perfectly while
he defies guitar gravity. Sure, it's a throwback album, but it's a quality vintage
that any instrumental rock fan will appreciate.
Black Cherry Crush - the '80s are still
hot, and this Seattle-based band is reaching waaaaay back to the early '80s, as
in Donna Summer "On The Radio" super-early '80s. Bassist Harry Wirth keeps
the groove hot and sweaty while lead vocalist Fysah Thomas brings the sexy stuff.
If you dig the Brand New Heavies, or Scissor Sisters, this stuff is for you. Not
sure they even have an album out yet, but go here to check them out anyway.
Emily Zuzik & Tim Lefebvre,
Domestic Blitz - is there anything that superhipster bassist
Tim Lefebvre does that isn't cool? I haven't found it yet. The NYC-based Lefebvre
has been on a muzo tear lately, with the Rudder and Krantz-Carlock-Lefebvre discs
in the past couple of years. But on this disc he's sharing songwriting and producing
duties, so it's really his musical imprint on this techno-retro/throwback/pop/rock
stew of tunes.
Shawn Farley, 5240
- this is more 2009 than 2010, but it's my list and I'll do what I want to. Shawn
Farley, a guitarist/singer/songwriter from Seattle who's into a lot of the same
music I am (and whose records I've played on in the past), decided to challenge
himself to write, record and publish online one song a week for an entire year.
He did it, and the results are pretty amazing. Call it muzo/rock/techno/pop/whatever
- it's all up on Bandcamp for your listening pleasure, and I highly recommend you
Mike Keneally, Evidence Of Humanity and Marco Minnemann, Normalizer 2 - if you haven't
heard about drummer/genius Marco Minnemann's Normalizer 2 project, here's
the deal: He tracked a 51-minute uninterrupted drum solo, and then gave the tracks
to a bunch of fellow-traveler mad-scientist composer/musicians to put their music
on top of his drums. "Evidence Of Humanity" is Keneally's version, and
trust me when I say it doesn't disappoint in the musical adventurousness department;
Marco's own Normalizer 2 composition-over-drums is a stream of consciousness
only he could create. Content warning: Marco's "Tourette Tabla" is one
of the most sexually obscene lyrics ever recorded, which is saying something.
That's it! Have a wonderful holiday season, and an even better Happy
New Year, and hopefully I'll see you in 2011...
Best wishes to all,