PopMatters: Humble Pie – Performance

My review of the new Humble Pie box set, Performance – Rockin’ at the Fillmore: The Complete Recordings is up at PopMatters.

When they left the studio for the stage, Humble Pie became something different altogether. Freed of the strictures of three minute long radio-friendly material, the four musicians came into their own. No longer was it Frampton extracting pop melodies from Marriott’s heavy R&B sensibilities, or Marriott dragging Frampton into a blues framework on a track-by-track basis. As this recording shows, their live partnership wasn’t a capitulation of one’s style to serve the other’s needs. It was two artists constantly pulling away from each other, with the tension of their inherently different approaches held in equilibrium by the rhythm section of Ridley and Shirley. Jerry Shirley’s ability to both pound heavily when playing blues and to sit off the beat for a jazzier feel allowed him to buttress whichever guitarist had stepped to the fore. Greg Ridley’s bass playing was limber yet solid like Shirley’s drums, and alternated that support role with the drummer like one instrument. Their fluid approaches to rhythm let Frampton and Marriott follow where their muses took them without sacrifices from either frontman.


Last Rites: Moon Coven – Amanita Kingdom

I reviewed the upcoming Moon Coven debut for Last Rites:

There are two things Moon Coven have from the opening notes of “Ruler of Dust” that many bands can’t ever seem to find: an earworm of a riff and a properly awesome guitar tone. The riff is a simple one, a drunken ellipse of a figure, with a slight stagger like a hiccup that immediately catches your attention. Then there’s that tone: rich, thick and resonant from bottom to top, no pass filters, no frills. It’s a tone that fills any room, from clapboard walls to cement halls. With that riff and tone locked and loaded, Moon Coven fire off toward the orb they worship. The song clocks it at just over seven minutes, but it could go another five or ten with that riff to carry the load.

Neil Feather, Sound Mechanic

I met Neil in Baltimore a short lifetime ago. We worked together at the Port Discovery children’s museum, and he patiently introduced me to the improvisational music scene he had been a part of for several decades. He’s one of the people most responsible for opening my ears to the broadest possibilities of music, and I was – and still am – absolutely blown away when he agreed to play the processional and recessional music at my wedding.

Neil’s got a new short form web series called The Sound Mechanic at Channel 9 WPDN’s youtube page. You should check that out ASAP. Below is a concert clip from 2011, where Neil is able to build and develop his themes to a much greater extent.

I haven’t seen Neil in years, but hopefully a Baltimore trip is in my future. It’s been far too long.

PopMatters: Qat, Coffee & Qambus

Various Artists: Qat, Coffee & Qambus – Raw 45s from Yemen

There’s currently an egregious typo that I missed in editing which should be fixed soon, but otherwise I’m pretty happy with how this review turned out. The hardest thing I’ve yet to cover; the temptation to rehash the excellent liner notes was great, and as a so far unique compilation there is little literature or other work to draw on when discussing these recordings. I hope I did enough to intrigue and entice the reader into searching it out by describing the music as I hear it.

The Best Metal Albums of 2013: Introduction

Adrien nails what metal is, was, and can be, and in the meantimes lets extremity wander to it’s own pasture, free of metal’s confines. An elegant and – more importantly – right feeling answer to the conundrum of 21st century ossification through classification.

basement galaxy

I could not have gotten into heavy metal at a better time. In 1983-1984, a mere 13 years into its evolution as a proper musical genre, it shifted from its nascent period to full-blown maturity. It was a perfect storm of potential being realized, youth culture, and the zeitgeist, making for a period of musical discovery a budding music fan could only dream of. Over the course of the next seven years metal would evolve at an unparalleled rate. Something groundbreaking would come out every month or two, it seemed, and for those a few years younger than me who would come of age right when the more extreme side of heavy metal truly started to take shape in the early 1990s, it was very much the same thing, an incredible rate of progression and innovation.

We had no idea at the time, but we were spoiled. The possibilities seemed…

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Heavily Troubled – My Salvation in Sound



It’s 1997, and in the back of a green five-subject spiral notebook are the words: “But suicides have a special language.” I cringe and laugh a little thinking about it now. Though my tenth grade universe had been gracious enough to grant me a gateway to Anne Sexton, I’d returned the favor…

Please read. Depression is real, and music can truly be salvation.

Heavily Troubled – My Salvation in Sound

Evidence of Infinity – A Conversation With Tom Gabriel Fischer



You hear the name Tom Gabriel Fischer and perhaps you immediately think of his other monikers Tom G Warrior or Satanic Slaughter. The finer points of Celtic Frost‘s immeasurable influence on heavy metal are discussed in detail with impassioned debate over which album is better. The…

Please, go read this interview. Even if you have no idea who Tom is, or you do and don’t like his music, give it your time.

Evidence of Infinity – A Conversation With Tom Gabriel Fischer