Monday, October 6, 2008


-- Let us start by saying that we are deeply apologetic for being late to this party, but whoa, its still early, and what a freaking party! The new music from Zach De La Roche, (aka, the voice of RAGE) has been out since mid-July (if we have ours facts halfway straight at this point), but we discovered it... well, sad to say, yesterday! Shame on us, you'd think we'd gone up a mountain for the summer, but we insist we'll make it up to you (we are currently playing the 5 song Ep to the absolute bone). Where were we when this came out? I guess it's a case of the pros and cons of established musicians going quasi-underground and releasing music on their own terms (i.e. extremely low key). The danger is that a side-project like this gets little to no push on radio, and relies entirely on word of mouth. And the pros? Well, it relies entirely on word of mouth! That can sometimes be the best scenario. We like the new sub-trend in music, which is being pioneered and probed by many established musicians: that of the studio and the Internet as an artist playground. If this kind of disc is the result, then bring it on, and burn down the rest of the establishment. The formula clearly works for De La Roche, as the quality here rivals any disc in his career, with the possible exception being the first RATM release. Some Rage fans will consider this heresy, and that's fine. But Zach's lyrics here are clearly some of the best of his career, and it appears that the total slop, free for all recording process (a very live sound), and "improv" as a rule strategy in the studio is exactly what the doctor ordered for the "Voice of Rage". The sound is a twist on RATM in many ways, but what stands out in terms of the sound alteration is two-fold. First, Zach sings on this record. There are some parts vocally where, ironically, De La Roche channels Chris Cornell ! This vocal aspect is a welcome addition, and adds a flavor that Zach has clearly been bottling for a decade. Also dominating the beautifully strange sound replacement on this EP is the fact that all guitar and bass seems to have been replaced (entirely!) by Zach himself on keyboards. Don't think high pitch heady light synth sounds a la STYX. Rather, think filthy dirty, zero frills, super heavy on the bass - keys reminiscent of early heavy groups like Iron Butterfly, Deep Purple, even later day Hendrix and his Band of Gypsys. A similar retro-keys sound has been adopted successfully most recently by Wolfmother, on their well received debut. Difference here is that unlike Wolfmother, the keys on "Lion" are always out front, and very prominent is the aggressive growl of the street organ's lower octaves. In this aspect, One Day As A Lion is similar to the White Stripes, and the lesser known (but critical favorite) The Black Keys. Both of these groups are "2 man bands" (ok, sorry Meg). Simple guitar/drums/vocals, and that's it. De La Roche essentially does the same thing here, swapping super sloppy, bass heavy guitar, with an equally crude keyboard sound. The result is astounding. If you've been looking for a little relief from today's so-called heavy music, which is
dangerously close to wearing out the "barking dog" vocal trend, yet at the same time you need a record that "hurts" your brain (in a good way), look no further. As mentioned above, the icing on this cake is the near lyrical nirvana that makes the majority of today's scribblers look hopeless. This is a guerrilla record if ever there was one. The disc, as pleasant surprises goes, reminds us of other side project one-offs, such as Madseason, Mother Love Bone, A Perfect Circle (ok, thats a 2-off). Let's hope there is more water in this well. We are dying of thirst ! --

Friday, October 3, 2008


-- If you're like us, the addition of Andrei Arlovski to tomorrow's free CBS/Elite MMA card came as both a pleasant surprise, and a game changer. Honestly, we've been following these CBS things more so because they're free (if it's free it's for me) than for any other reason. A handful of good fighters and old favorites like Phil Baroni also sometimes make it interesting, but considering ourselves somewhat cultured in this MMA game (an irony if ever there was one --Lol), we've not had much excitement from these cards other than the pure and insanely beautiful spectacle of Gina Carrano kicking the garbage out of very real and nasty opponents. The usual reason for our disappointment is just how much CBS hangs it's MMA hat on a circus atmosphere and shot fighters. We will not write off Kimbo Slice altogether, as many fighters (including great ones) have eaten well from having nothing but athleticism and a lethal right hand. But Dana White has called this right from the start (and he's in a position to call Ferguson out on this). In so many words, White said "I'll take a look when he beats somebody". Thus far, wins over Tank Abbott and other journeymen have not been enough for White, nor are they for us. Kimbo has some miles to go before legitimacy. He can high-tail it down that road Saturday, only if he roughs up a "well-done" Ken Shamrock as badly as Tito Ortiz has. If not, then what are Kimbo's realistic chances of competing for a REAL belt? Not very good considering Ortiz' own shot at a title are fading fast.

-- So then Arlovski... now this is interesting, how CBS slipped this addition in under our noses. It's fantastic and weird all at the same time. It's fantastic because it is a glimmer of hope that we will one day see top-tier (dare we say 5 round championships) fights on free TV. It hasn't happened yet, and could be disastrously promoted. But if handled well, it is a fan's dream come true. Arlovski is the real deal. Even if the odds end up being 4-1 against Arlovski in the inevitable Fedor match up, Arlovski is in every one's top 6-7 heavyweights in the world, and in many lists top 3. So the strange thing about tomorrow is just how smart the addition is to the card, while at the same time the "under-promotion" of the Arlovski addition is just mind-boggling. The obvious answer is that CBS/Elite rightly figures that die-hards will hear about the fight and make their way to CBS tomorrow, and that it makes no sense to hype Arlovski as a main attraction thereby undermining the company's investment in Slice. All too obvious, especially given the fact that Arlovski remains "on loan" from Affliction, while Ferguson is still a CBS/Elite "asset". Oh who cares? Are we over-thinking this? Whoever tunes in tomorrow does so for their own reasons, and that's that. My reasons are Arlovski and Carrano. What's yours? --