Search for the Hidden Gem (2011 vol# 2)

Written by on March 10, 2011 in March 10, 2011, Music Reviews - 1 Comment

Hopefully my March Madness bracket doesn’t get tossed after the first round like it did last year. But with the tournament going from 64 to 68 teams it’s not looking good. UCLA all the way!

Domestic Electrics

“The Nowhere Ocean”
Style (Indie Rock)

WTF is this? Where once there might have existed meaningful musical purpose and direction, our champions from the San Francisco area have ventured too close to the fumes of Silicon Valley. Their cerebral cortexes attacked by late night code writing fever, Facebook surfing, and Red Bull pounding have rendered their music writing prowess flat lining, gasping for a coherent something, anything. Desperate to prove their parents wrong about their musical futures, our 14 hour a day code writers champion their cause and push forward with an unrelenting shameful but tireless pursuit to perfect the overly convoluted jumbled puzzle beats and rhythms, out of tune and off time vocals, their powers compounding exponentially, generating a tsunami size buzz kill to any local sidewalk music scene. If it weren’t for our heroes absurdly baffling musical production we’d only have their ineffective choice of CD artwork of a white horse grazing in a field (a shot likely taken while driving into the hillsides of Marin County that screams “we don’t know WTF we’re doing, and it shows!”) to scare us away. Luckily for us our heroes also included a feeble four shot band picture on the back. The group picture alone (our fearsome foursome during a smoke break outside the day job office complex) should act as a reminder to all bands (new and old) of what not to do.

Rating 0 (Everything about this CD is floating aimlessly in a nowhere ocean)

Lesbian Bed Death

“Designed By the Devil – Powered By the Dead”
Style (Rock / Alt Gothic)

Playing through these songs I have to wonder if the band name and use of a female singer were purely by design to try and sell merchandise. Additionally, nothing musically this band is spewing is designed by the devil or powered by the dead either. And it sure as hell isn’t going to sell. I’d have to think if the devil actually popped in for a listen and brought along some dead pals this 5 piece unit would shit their pants when the lightning bolts and pitch forks stuck in their asses for using El Diablo’s name in vein. Shame on you! This really is another CD for the WTF pile. All Kittie Racchea is accomplishing here is a complete disemboweling of every song, not to mention amplifying the need for vocal lessons. Her mid-low vocal range lacks emotion and style, leading me to believe the phrase “powered by the dead” in the title is referring to her vocal notes because they are indeed dead. As for the song writing, this is basic rock 101. Another point of contention I have is with the pacing, which lumbers along like Treebeard in the forest. Oh well, slow paced but dying quickly. What I really hear from LBD is a band that desperately wants to be more than they are, and it’s going to be a tough road to haul getting to the promise land on limited range. Just another run of the mill band wearing black using an art class created symbol to sell merchandise. Maybe Jane Seymour and Kay Jewelers will be interested in licensing.

Rating 1

Dick Wagner

“Full Meltdown”
Style (Classic Rock)

To say Dick Wagner’s been around the music industry block a few times is severely understating the obvious. Besides playing lead guitar and writing songs with Alice Cooper for a number of years, Wagner’s decades in the biz include playing lead guitar or writing songs for Aerosmith, Lou Reed, Burton Cummings, KISS, Meat Loaf, Steve Perry, Ringo Starr, Etta James, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Air Supply, Hall & Oates, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard just to name a few. Wagner’s new solo CD, “Full Meltdown,” contains 15 songs that are straight out of the classic rock genre with no frill rock guitar, rhythms, and easy lyrics. In a music era being held hostage by auto tune dependent pop singers and homogenized rock bands, Wagner’s new disc is a breath of fresh air. I will say that the songs though are a bit long winded with run times ranging from 3:30 to 7:30 so take along a snack and some beer. Two songs that stand out most for me are “Stagger Lee” and “I’d Take the Bullet” because each has a Bob Seger’esq sound and I’m a fan of that music. The one aspect of the disc I do have an issue with is related to the horribly blurry photo of Wagner playing guitar that’s on the cover and back. I’m sure there’s some sentimental history behind this photo I’m not aware of, but bad photography that’s horrendously out of focus should be left to bands who’ll pilfer and use anything free no matter how disparaging and unprofessional it makes them look on free websites like Facebook and MySpace. Professional veterans like Wagner I expect more from when it comes to visual representation.

Rating 2 ½ (bad photography has only one usage – filling up your recycle bin)

Curt Yagi & The People Standing Behind Me

“Close My Eyes”
Style (Singer Songwriter)

This is the second CD I’ve received and reviewed from Curt and I really like how he’s maturing as a musician and a songwriter. I remember Curt’s first CD being OK but missing something. In Curt’s second CD, I hear an artist who put a lot of time and effort into his craft and took a look internally at his musical influences, and I’d say he found that “something.” These 9 songs are well arranged with easy lyrics, a cleanly played acoustic guitar, and well placed horns. Additionally, each song has a little Ska/Reggae rhythm influence, which according to Curt points back directly to his early musical influences, and something I feel works wonderfully for Curt’s style of music and something I’m really diggin’. I’ve played through this CD quite a few times and each time I play through it I’m more and more impressed with how well Curt’s musicianship, writing, and arrangements have progressed compared to his 2007 release. I can’t wait to hear these songs live so hopefully I’ll be able to catch a show when next I’m in the San Francisco area, which is where Curt resides.

Rating 4 (well done)

Carbon 9

“The Bull”
Style (Rock / Industrial)

I’m a little behind on getting to this one so hopefully when the next CD is released I’ll be more on top of it. In any case, the wait was worth it. What I really like about Carbon 9, and what I feel separates them from the pack, is how they incorporate so many exciting parts in each song that just when you think you’ve figured out the direction they toss in a little side step just to keep things interesting. Carbon 9 is a band that exhibits top notch musicianship, excellent song writing, and because of the musical intricacies, incredible arrangements. Style is definitely difficult to pin down because Carbon 9 sounds like no other band, and that’s another reason to be interested in this band. In addition to the original song creations on the new CD, Carbon 9 included their remake version of Danzig’s “Mother” that’s worth mentioning. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these guys live a couple times and damn do they put on an incredibly entertaining show. Their full show filled with all the tech visuals is something you don’t forget.

Rating 3 ½


“Hope for Tomorrow”
Style (Metal / Rock)

I normally don’t include a 6th review for my blog but sometimes musical gold is too hard to pass up. After hearing the vocal chops coming out of QBall’s voice box, yes, you read correctly, the singer goes by the name QBall, no space between the Q and the B, I simply couldn’t help but be impressed. Sure the music world has a plethora of one vocal range singers, but never before have I heard a vocal maestro brutally butcher a remake (Billy Squier’s hit The Stroke) so horrendously to render the song unlistenable. And this isn’t to say the cover song was his worst singing attempt on the disc. No, no, no my good readers. QBall’s vocal disassembly of the art of carrying a tune consistently persists from start to finish. After hearing this CD I honestly have more appreciation for singers who give it their best karaoke try at certain notes, failing miserably in the process, because it’s better than what QBall does, which is get to certain notes that require a change and instead of pushing forward he grinds to a halt deciding it’s better to stop here rather than take on the embarrassment of failure head on. I never thought I’d say this given my disdain for most howler monkey vocals, but this band’s music would have far more impact and energy if they employed a singer who didn’t try and sing and just belted out howler monkey style. But that will require a lot of song rewrites. As for the songs and musicianship of the other four members, just like the vain in Julia Robert’s forehead or Owen Wilson’s messed up nose, all my attention was drawn away from the other moving parts because of the cog in the machine.

Rating 1 (sorry, no hope for tomorrow)