rock

It's hard to ignore a band personally handpicked by the illustrious Johnny Z, discoverer of Metallica and fonder of Megaforce Records.  The man has thrown his weight behind Nim Vind, an upstart Canadian songwriting group that consciously defies genre categorization and seeks to find some solace in the joy of music.  With his new album "Saturday Night Seance Songs" recently released to the world, we sat down with frontman Chris to talk about his band, how it came to be, Paul Shaffer and a few other things.  Read on.

There is a common association between the macabre themes of violence and isolation and the power and uncommon fury of heavy metal.  Yet, punk and rock share many of those same ideals, occasionally cloaked in subtler themes.  We’ve seen the near-crooning of Glenn Danzig and the leather emotion of the 69 Eyes.  Enter into that mix a new twist on the old theme, Canadian band Nim Vind.

It’s been a busy year for Neal Morse. First, he helped put out the new Transatlantic record which my cohort Chris still believes (and not erroneously,) to be one of the best albums of the year. Then he popped out a solo record (as seen this week on this site!) and now he’s also gearing up to release the new Flying Colors record in the fall. Flying Colors, for those who may not know, is the on-again, off-again, whenever-we-have-time project that Morse works on with apex drummer Mike Portnoy, Steve Morse (no relation,) Dave LaRue and newish vocalist Casey McPherson.

The rock and metal revival movement that got off to a running start a couple years ago has continued in earnest, thriving into 2014. With the joyful reception of that material by fans and press in the past, it’s time to produce and prove sustainability.

If you're of a certain age, you know Emerson Hart's voice, even if you can't recall the name. As the lead singer of Tonic, he was front and center on a string of hit rock songs, including the most played single on all of radio in 1997. Anyone who turned on a radio back then knows “If You Could Only See”, and ever since he has continued writing great songs, even if the radio landscape has made it hard for an artist like him to get airplay. The pop world is fickle, and as the trends have changed, there isn't much room left for an honest songwriter.

Blue and Gold, the power quartet from New York City, follows a simple and time-tested formula. Write songs people like. That probably sounds shallow, but it’s an axiom that is all too often forgotten, particularly amidst the image maintenance and minutia of independent music.

In the grips of the retro rock revival, one of the things that remains lost on us is how staggeringly creative bands of that time were. They didn't just push the boundaries of popular music, and define rock as we know it, they did it at a pace that is unimaginable today. The Beatles' entire career lasted nine years, during which they wrote, tossed out, and re-wrote the rules several times. Life and music were different back then.

Nickelback.

That’s an extremely charged word for anyone who has a more-than-casual interest in music of any type. Nickelback has come to symbolize all that is wrong with mainstream radio, the music industry and the lowest common denominator. More to the point, Nickelback also represents the current state of popular rock, encompassing the twin ideas of sleaze and arena rock.

Mark Lanegan, best known as a founding member of Screaming Trees, was also a member of Queens of the Stone Age for some of their best releases, “Rated R,” “Songs for the Deaf,” and “Lullabies to Paralyze.” Additionally, Lanegan has collaborated with a host of notable artists over the years including Isobel Campbell of Belle and Sebastian, Mad Season, and Melissa Auf der Maur. In short, “Black Pudding” is not Lanegan’s first rodeo; he is a seasoned veteran of the trade, always looking to try something new.

Some albums are destined to be bittersweet. No matter the result of the creative work put in, the surrounding events necessitate that the music will never be the full story. Those are albums that will always carry a label with them, the proverbial asterisk that they must wear like a scarlet letter. It's unfair to burden a work with the happenstance it emerged from, but it's something we can't help but do, and it's not something we're liable to change.