Posted by: joshalmond | April 28, 2011

Music Life Radio

I recently produced some interviews for MusicLifeRadio.com.   Here is the first one where I interviewed Derek Theron.   I have more to come, one with Cecilia, producer of From Ears And Mouth Presents, and On The Tip Of My Tongue – cable access video magazines – and another with Gary Tubbs, singer and keyboardist for the prog metal band Tetrafusion.

More to come!

Posted by: joshalmond | October 8, 2010

The Band Next Door

 

 

 

So, they moved in around June 1st.  They don’t completely suck, but still, since they have a drummer, they should really rent a studio.  I know they’re students, or at least, I think they are, because I don’t hear the music all the time – and they’re young.  I don’t want to be hypocritical, being a musician who plays at home as well, but sometimes they really irritate me.

Back in 1991, when I was playing in my first band, Obscurity – we practiced in the singer’s garage, and always had the cops coming by.  No neighbors, no, “hey, can you keep it down”, they just called the cops.  We weren’t overly loud, and in fact one police officer said so – and even another sat in on drums for a minute or so.  They pretty much said that they had to come out when there was a complaint, but unless we were over a certain decibel level, or playing after 10pm, they couldn’t really do anything but tell us to turn it down.  I just really wish that whomever was calling the cops would’ve just came over to talk.

When we were forced to leave that garage, we moved, briefly to our guitarist’s house down the street, but the old people next door, were pissed.  They sprayed water at the window, and yelled.  We moved to my house shortly after.   Before we started rehearsing, I went around with a note to all my adjacent neighbors with my phone number, and telling them, if they had any problems with us playing, to let me know.  I never heard anything.  Of course, we didn’t play much after moving here.  We’d practice twice a week, once on Saturday afternoon, and one evening a week, I think.  I liked having a drum set in my room, and I’d even get on it and play it a little.  I liked hitting the drums, but I wasn’t very good at it.  Obscurity tapered off that summer. We had a few shows, but eventually, our drummer, who eventually told us he didn’t like our singer, decided to leave.  This sucked, as we had kicked our old drummer out (a much nicer, and better drummer – albeit – a different style) earlier that year.  When the current guy left, I thought, I think I’m gonna quit too.  It hadn’t been very exciting for awhile, and both myself, the drummer, and the guitarist had other musical projects going on concurrently.

But I always wondered if we were pissing neighbors off.  Now I understand.  It wouldn’t be so bad, but my office/studio is within earshot, so I probably hear them more in this room than anywhere else.

well, except in the bathroom…

Posted by: joshalmond | September 30, 2010

Hammer Of The Gods Wielded By A Lanky Dude

I’ve been reading Hammer Of The Gods by Stephen Davis, the unauthorized biography on Led Zeppelin.  The book is interesting and takes you from the early days of Jimmy Page, and into the beginnings of Zep as “The New Yardbirds”.   Within the book, the author paints a bit of a picture that Page may have used the Occult to make the band as big as they were, but not without repercussions.  From what I know of energy work, one can damage oneself pretty bad if you don’ t know what you are doing. 

Page was a fan of Aleister Crowley (yes, the same “Mr. Crowley” that Ozzy sang about), who clearly was dabbling in the black arts, and even purchased a home that Crowley had previously owned.  Now as to whether or not Page was trying to make Thoth appear, or having magical sex parties in his basement (yes, there’s some mention of something like that in the book) to conjure up fame and stardom, I don’t know.  But it’s clear that Zep lifted many musical ideas from others, and became the biggest rock band that ever lived.

Robert Plant’s son died, and he himself suffered injuries.  Page had problems with his hand, and was hooked on women and drugs.  He even had a love affair with a 14 year old woman, which was kept quiet.  John Paul Jones managed to get out virtually unscathed, and would often be missing during the bands parties.  John Bonham was an alcoholic who may have been bipolar, going from a quiet guy to “the beast”.  His end was dealt by drinking too much vodka in too short a time.  It’s a shame too, as he was a great drummer.  Zeppelin were big in America, but as we know, the bigger you are, the bigger you fall.  Especially if you’re playing with energies you don’t understand.

Sound is very powerful.  And Page conjured up a sound and power, in forming this band, the likes of which will never be seen again.  And I’m thankful for it.  My favorite album was also the first one I had, Physical Graffiti.  During the eighties, a friend taped the double album it on to cassette for me.  I guess that was early “music file sharing”…

I recommend reading the book, but it’s not for kids!

Posted by: joshalmond | May 8, 2010

X Marks The Spot For Spock’s Beard

Okay, so the album X (their tenth studio album) hasn’t come out yet, but it’s on it’s way very shortly.  If you haven’t yet ordered your copy, get yours now!  I’m just gonna tell you how I stumbled upon them.  I may have heard of them somewhere along the way, but never listened to their music until sometime last year, when, looking through a Talkbass forum post on prog music – with people asking for suggestions, I found their myspace and heard the track from the album Spock’s Beard, their ninth studio album, “Skeletons At The Feast”.  I really dug the craziness of it.  It’s an instrumental and in some odd meter.  But when I heard it, I was hooked.  At this point, I went ahead and ordered the album, and subsequently other albums.  Turned out, some guy named Neal Morse used to sing and play keyboards and guitar for them. heh heh!  Within the rest of the year, I explored the rest of their albums and found that I liked Spock’s Beard with and without Neal.  I kinda went back and forth on the timeline of the discs.  At some point I heard an episode of “The Gates Of Delirium“, a podcast by Christopher Ambler on The Dividing Line Broadcast Network where he interviewed Dave.  That got me a bit more into them.  Hearing musicians talk about their craft and life really works for me, which I may be doing myself very soon, for MusicLifeRadio.com.  I really dig Dave Meros gritty bass playing, a growling sound coming out of those speakers.  It meshes well with Ryo Okumoto‘s absafuckinglutely crazy keyboard playing and Nick D’Virgilio’s drums.  After learning that Alan Morse doesn’t use a pick on all those guitar parts, I was further impressed by him.  That’s hard to do!  Not to mention the calluses he must have on his fingertips.  When I was rehearsing regularly every week with my old band, my fingertips felt like plastic, but then again, I played my bass with my fingers, and they were tough, nickel Rotosound strings.  But still, how does he do that?!  

While I could go on and one about which version of Spock’s Beard I like more or less, I won’t.  The point is moot.  I discovered both at the same time.  Neal has moved on, and I enjoy his work (especially Transatlantic).  I’ve probably listened to the albums that they did without him more, simply… because it’s newer, and I like shiny new things.  Octane was the third disc I heard, and I still love listening to it.  She Is Everything is beautiful!! A bunch of the tracks are about a car crash, and what is going through the person’s life at that moment, what life review is happening to him.  It’s really an important thing to do.  To review your life while you are alive.  As we will all make that transition at some point in our lives, and move on, we will all have to make that review.  I think it’s probably better to have done it consciously, while one is still alive than at that last second.  But I digress… NWC is brilliant!  And “As Long As We Ride” makes me want to get on a motorcycle and drive away singing at the top of my breath!  There are also parts in “The Planet’s Hum”, and “Follow Me To Sleep” which are really nice.

I think I heard Snow, which was Neal’s last with the band, but probably my favorite album with him is The Kindness Of Strangers, which I heard more recently.  Flow is quite powerful, and I’d have to agree… it is a real Strange World, and The Good Don’t Last.  The subject matter of Cakewalk On Easy Street is humbling.  Aren’t you glad you have legs?  Haven’t thought about it lately?  Well, you should.  Appreciate what you have in life, and while you’re at it go tell your mom “I love you”.  V’s At The End Of The Day, and The Great Nothing are two of my all time favorites.  Funny enough, aside from the overture, which has a wicked keyboard line, I think my favorite track on Snow is I’m Still Looking For Answers which is sung by NDV! 

All and all, Spock’s Beard is one of my all time favorite bands, and I can’t wait to hear all of the new album when it arrives (maybe real soon…)  Since I’ve already ordered my copy, I think I’m going to go get the 3RP DVD now on which there are live performances of both Neal and Spock’s Beard (not to mention The Flower Kings!).  You can hear a bit of it here on their myspace page.  From what I hear, it sounds fucking awesome!   Fittingly enough, I leave you with At The End Of The Day, filmed at Pound SF in San Francisco, a club I even played at! 

Does Leonard Nimoy listen to Spock’s Beard?

Posted by: joshalmond | May 8, 2010

Frost*

The Philadelphia Experiment

As I’ve probably told you before, I first heard Frost, this past autumn while listening to Soundscape on The Dividing Line broadcast network.  The track Black Light Machine, which was described as being about “the dangers of watching too much television” blew me away.  The sounds coming out of this group called Frost, I really liked.  So I went about finding as much of their music as possible.  They only had two albums, Milliontown, and Experiments In Mass Appeal.  I think I downloaded them both, and then… even purchased the CDs, something which I never do!  Well, the new Frost* album is coming out!  I guess I shouldn’t ever be too excited about something referred to as The Philadelphia Experiment, but I am.  After all, that experiment back in 1943 was not a good thing at all.  But I won’t go into that, after all, I’m here to talk to you about music!

Well, it’s a live 2CD/DVD with tracks from the ROSFest show from 2009, a making of DVD, and recent The Dividing Line track, which Jem and Co. did for the ten year anniversary of the online prog radio station of the same name.  You can go there and listen to the recent interview Jem Godfrey did for them, as well as a couple of new tracks, including the aforementioned new song – which is 18 minutes of prog goodness.  In the interview he goes a bit of the recording process, intros musicians Mark Knight and Tara Busch, and even how he recorded an air conditioning unit which was making a racket in a restroom at an Imogene Heap concert!  He even included a sample of the interviewer, Frans Keylard playing his comb.  Brilliant use of sampling! 

Also on The Dividing Line, John Boyes makes his return playing guitar on the track.  He did a bunch of early work which is on Frost’s first CD, Milliontown.  Most think it was all John Mitchell, but apparently not all of it.  Speaking of Johnny… I’ve recently discovered Kino, and love the album to bits.  I was also surprised to find that Pete Trewavas played on it!  Not only are there great songs on Frost albums, but Kino albums as well!!!  Next up, I’ll have to get into some IQ and It Bites.  

 Oh, did I forget to mention that Nick D’Virgilio played on this Frost CD during ROSfest.  How did I do that?!!  I love Andy Edwards drumming, but I am looking forward to hearing all the tracks with NDV himself.  I hear he is now performing with Cirque Du Soliel now, but will be touring with Spock’s Beard this summer. 

But first, I must tell you about the new Spock’s Beard album, and how I found them in the first place…

Posted by: joshalmond | May 8, 2010

Transatlantic

I went to see Transatlantic on their Whirld Tour Sunday April 18th at the Palace Of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and no offense to any other musicians I’ve seen in concert before – and let me tell you… this was, by far the most incredible show I’ve ever been to.
Neal, Mike, Roine, Pete, and Daniel took the stage and performed the whole of  The Whirlwind, 77 minutes of music. Oddly, the place wasn’t sold out. There were scores of empty seats behind me. I figured it was just that not enough prog fans in the bay area knew it was happening, or just haven’t heard of Transatlantic yet. Yet! They haven’t played in ten years, so it might be understandable, but for a prog band so incredible as they are, I just don’t get it.  If you haven’t heard of them, and you love prog, get on it man!  Go get some Transatlantic TODAY!

I was also surprised that the fans didn’t get on their feet until the second to last part of the Whirlwind, called “Is It Really Happening (actual footage from the show- not mine – as seen here)”.  Due to the volcanic euruptions in Iceland, both their sound and lighting guys were not able to make it, and there were a few mistakes, including Mike’s microphone being off during his first solo vocal part.  I could see some tension in Mike’s face, here and there.  He likes things to be perfect – and I can understand that.  When they finally got thorugh most of the Whirlwind, they started loosening up.  I mean, this was the second gig of the tour!  But at that moment, they had it smokin!   The crowd was just blown away, as was I.  I continue to be more and more blown away by Roine Stolt and the music of The Flower Kings.  I love his playing, and even his voice (some people don’t like it).

I could tell there was a cross section of different fans there. Dream Theater fans for Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt for The Flower Kings fans, Marillion and Kino bass player Pete Trewavas, and of course Neal Morse, formerly of Spock’s Beard (I think there were quite a few of the christian crowd in the house). Oh, and I’m not forgetting touring member Daniel Gildenlöw, of Pain Of Salvation who kept it going on keyboard, guitar, percussion, and vocals. I think he may have even played some bass while Pete got on Neal’s synth during the encore, Stranger In Your Soul.  Where was Neal you ask?  He was playing drums with Mike!  This song, while I had heard it a few times, I guess I just didn’t get it until I saw them play it live.  Pete singing a lot of it, the melodies.  It just emotes, and sends like no other song I’ve heard, and I still can’t get enough of it.  If they ever tour again, I will definitely do whatever I have to, to see them.  I even considered hoping a flight to Europe to see them again on this tour!  That would make me Transatlantic!

Mike And Neal Playing Drums

The set list was:

The Whirlwind
(intermission)
All Of The Above
Duel With The Devil
We All Need Some Light
Bridge Across Forever
Stranger In Your Soul

Posted by: joshalmond | March 28, 2010

The Flower Kings

I have found a band that is truly amazing.  They’re from Sweden, and the only way I’d probably ever have heard them, aside from visiting Sweden and happening upon them in a small club (unlikely they’d be in a small club) – is due to one of the members, Roine Stolt being in the incredible prog band Transatlantic!  Although I had a track of theirs on a compilation from Inside Out Records, which I’d forgotten about, I don’t think I’d actually listened to it.  Earlier this week, I went into Rasputin Records to exchange some stuff (which turned out to be way more of a hassle than Amoeba Records‘ set up), and thought, “I’ll get some Flower Kings“.  I found one album, a comp called The Road Back Home, which said it was good for both the veteran fan, or the newbie, so I figured I couldn’t miss.  That was… until I read the liner notes where it said something to the affect of, ‘we’ve left out all the complicated 11/8 odd meter stuff‘… DOH!  That’s the stuff I want to hear.  So, on to itunes I go, and download “Adam & Eve” , which has one track that I heard on Pandora for mere moments before I accidentally hit the wrong button on my new droid and lost the song.  I didn’t know what song it was, but I recall the album cover.  It turned out to be Drivers Seat – an 18 minute track to which I’d only heard the crazy awesome synth intro (go here if you want to hear what I mean).  I wanted more! I still do!

So, after spending the next two days listening to The Road Back Home (2007) and Adam & Eve (2004), respectively, I downloaded two more albums!  Flower Power (1999) is pure genius with a track that is an epic HOUR LONG PROG SPECTACLE entitled Garden Of Dreams.  As of yet, I still haven’t quite finished listening to Stardust We Are (1997), but will, shortly.  I have so much more to enjoy down the road as they have  about 12 more albums, not including all the various versions, and side projects.  Well, if you haven’t heard them, heard of them, and you love your prog like I do… go check them out.

I haven’t purchased a ticket to a show since I saw Marcus Miller, jazz bass player extrordinaire at Yoshi’s in San Francisco, but heard that Transatlantic were coming to town in April to play at The Palace Of Fine Arts, in support of their new album The Whirlwind – so all I could think about was that line from Pulp Fiction: “I’m goin’, I’m f*cking goin’, that’s all there is to it”.  It is on a Sunday night, and clear across town, but it is actually in SF, instead of being at one of the horrible big venues in the bay area like The Shoreline in Mountain View, or Concord Pavillion (or whatever they’re calling it now).   Although, I’m not sure they’re big enough to play those places, after all they are a prog band.   Thankfully, most prog hasn’t been destroyed by the current music industry, and real music is actually coming out of it.  A lot of good, new music.  Over the past year, discovering bands like Spock’s Beard, Frost*, Battles, Porcupine Tree, IQ, Tetrafusion, Parzival’s Eye, the aforementioned Transatlantic, and of course The Flower Kings, has really been a joy.

It’s not exactly a prog song, but I hope Transatlantic perform Lenny Johnson, because it’s one of my favorites from the double album.  I leave you now, with an oldie, but goodie:  Level 42’s Lessons In Love, which has a great Mark King bass line.

Posted by: joshalmond | February 3, 2010

The American Professionals

I think I’ve mentioned them before.  The American Professionals have a new EP cd out on cdbaby.

They did the song called Kiss The Sky in that Mancrunch ad that was not picked up by CBS for the Superbowl.  I think it’s pretty funny, but the song has some really nice harmonies going on.

Posted by: joshalmond | January 30, 2010

It Might Get Loud

It Might Get Loud starring Jimmy Page, Jack White of White Stripes and Raconteurs, and The Edge of U2 is a fun thing to watch.  Old pics and videos of Jimmy Page and The Edge make this documentary about the electric guitar worth watching alone!  There was quite a bit I learned about each of them, including some of their techniques.  But one of the funniest parts in the movie was watching Jack teach The Edge and Mr. Page how to play Seven Nation Army!

Definitely recommended!

Posted by: joshalmond | January 26, 2010

A New Year, A New Post

A new year, and here’s a new post.  Have you ever heard of Kryst-Hop?   Something a bit more spiritual and higher in frequency for your mind.  Have a listen:  Tra Na Tae Tribe

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