Thursday, November 30, 2017

Alice in Chains New Album Set for 2018 Release

Well, looks like Alice in Chains fans will have to shop for some other stocking stuffers this Christmas, because the new album won't be out until 2018.

That's the word from guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell, who had originally hoped the latest Chains offering would be ready this year, but clearly that won't happen.

"We’ve been working all summer on writing some tunes. We worked a little bit in Seattle over the summer. We’re just kind of taking our time. Hopefully we’ll get something together for you guys next year," said Cantrell, 51. "We’re in the process of cobbling together some tunes, and hopefully in the very near future we’ll have something out for you guys."

The upcoming record will be Alice in Chains' third studio effort since the passing of original vocalist Layne Staley in 2002.

Their previous two records, Black Gives Way to Blue and 2013's The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, were both fairly well received by most fans of the band, although a vocal minority wants nothing to do with them since Staley overdosed and Cantrell, stalwart drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Inez carried on with William Duvall handling Staley's vocals during concerts.

And the guy who produced their last two albums, Nick Raskulinecz, is again handling production duties for the upcoming record, which is being worked on at Studio X in Seattle. It's the same venue they recorded their 1995 self-title "tripod" album.

While fans don't' know much about what what direction Alice in Chains will go this time around, one thing they can count on is a good-sounding record with thick, sludging guitars, good overall tone and Alice in Chains exceptional vocal harmonies.

Let's hope the new albums sees the band stretch itself out more than they did on the last record, where several songs lacked a spark and seemed a bit too formulaic.

Read about how Degradation Trip is such a window into Jerry Cantrell's soul


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Five of AC/DC's Most Underrated Riffs

With the recent passing of AC/DC's founder, rhythm guitarist and primary songwriter, Malcolm Young, it's a good time to look back on the band's massive body of work and the riffs Malcolm came up with. With no less than 17 studio albums, the enduring Aussie rockers have a ton of high voltage tracks. But we're going to look at five of the most underrated riffs penned by Malcolm Young. Needless to say, there really isn't a bad riff in AC/DC's entire canon (just a few repetitions).

Bedlam in Belgium

Buried as the eighth song on the underrated Flick of the Switch album, "Bedlam in Belgium" has an absolutely swinging riff, which was a hallmark of Malcolm's writing. Like many AC/DC songs, it opens with one guitar playing the main riff, then a second joins in for the third bar and, boom it really kicks in. Of note is the lyrics are a true story from a 1977 concert in Belgium.

Given the Dog a Bone

Pretty much every song from 1980's Back in Black album is very good. However, "Given the Dog A Bone" is a track that may get glossed over, but it's actually a killer song with a killer riff that Malcolm wrote. The boogie of the main riff perfectly compliments Brian Johnson's lascivious lyrics of receiving oral sex from a less than good looking woman ("She's no Mona Lisa, no, she's no Playboy star").

Send for the Man

Suffice it to say, the riff on "Send for the Man" is one of the band's heaviest. It's the final song on 1985's Fly on the Wall album and many teenagers were banging their heads to that record in the summer of '85. The opening riff on "Send for the Man" with its potent power chords is a tribute to how amazing Malcolm Young was because it's simple, yet powerful.

Riff Raff

One of Malcolm's signature boogie riffs, the relentless "Riff Raff" is found on AC/DC's amazing Powerage album. The first minute of that song is the definition of what an AC/DC song is all about: the riff intro, the build up, then the foot-stomping release and boogie as the song gets going.

Go Down

It might be a misnomer to consider the opening track of 1977''s Let There be Rock as underrated, but "Go Down" is one of those songs nobody ever talks about (and according to setlistfm.com, they've only played it once in concert, ever), yet it's the first song on one of their finest older albums. The riff is the epitome of AC/DC chord structure back then with a blues based influence made heavy and menacing with that trademark added boogie element.

Check out AC/DC's 5 most underrated songs with vocalist Brian Johnson


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Five Rolling Stones Albums For New Stones Fans

It can be pretty daunting if you're a new Rolling Stones fan and want to know which albums to get into from their vast catalogue, or which are their best records to check out first.

The Stones have officially released 25 studio albums, as well as a ton of greatest hits packages and live albums. But for new fans of the band who really want to tap into what the Stones are about, there are several key albums to delve into, primarily from when they were at the peak of their power in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The five albums are in chronological order (except Hot Rocks) to help new fans get a sense of what was happening with the band at the time of each record.

Hot Rocks 1974-1971

Starting with Hot Rocks, a double album of greatest hits, you can get a good sampling of the Stones early days, when they were wide-eyed youngsters making it big on the pop scene with songs like "Time is My Side", "Satisfaction", "Mother's Little Helper", and "Let's Spend the Night Together", among many others. Hot Rocks was released by their former manager, Allen Klein, who duped the Stones into signing over their entire catalogue from their original label, Decca Records, and it contains most of their big hits up to 1971, when the band formed their own label, Rolling Stones Records. Hot Rocks also gives listeners a quick taste of what's on some of the best albums.

Beggars Banquet (1968)

Regarded as one of the Rolling Stones best albums ever by aficionados, Beggar's Banquet (their 9th US studio album) marks the beginning of the Stones true glory days in terms of their song depth and sound. It's the first record produced by Jimmy Miller, who worked with them on every album through 1973, and it's the first album where founding guitarist Brian Jones is starting to get pushed to the sidelines (but that's another story). Opening with "Sympathy for the Devil", Beggars Banquet features a much better sound in terms of the production than their previous albums. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman and Jones also pay homage to their bluesy roots with tracks like "No Expectations" and "Dear Doctor". But you can hear the Stones branching out into more straight up rock and roll with the amazing "Stray Cat Blues" and "Jigsaw Puzzle". It's the last album where the Stones relied predominantly on an "acoustic" sound.

Let It Bleed (1969)

The follow up to Beggars Banquet was Let It Bleed, again amazingly produced by Jimmy Miller. By now the Stones, particularly Keith Richards and Brian Jones, were heavily into drugs, and it would be the last album Jones recorded with the band before getting fired by Mick and Keith. It's also the first album to feature Jones' replacement, uber-talented guitarist Mick Taylor, who plays on "Country Honk" and "Live With Me". It's fair to say Let It Bleed is where the Stones refined their sound, especially with songs like "Gimme Shelter", "Live With Me" and "Let it Bleed" that are riff-based rock and roll songs with heavy background piano as in the latter two tracks. "Gimme Shelter" is arguably one of the best Stones songs, period, while "You Can't Always Get What You Want" became a radio favourite. This album is no-filler with "Monkey Man" being one of the Stones' more underrated songs and "Midnight Rambler" as one of the their live staples. For the new listeners, it's Richards handling lead vocal on "You Got the Silver".

Sticky Fingers (1971)

The first album on their new Rolling Stones label with the famous tongue logo, Sticky Fingers is extremely polished and heavily drug-influenced as Richards was by now a full-time heroin addict, and drugs feature heavily in the lyrics of most tracks. Many argue this is the Rolling Stones finest album, period. There's nary a bad song to be found on this diverse, 10-song collection which showcases the Stones as country rockers ("Dead Flowers"), hard rockers ("Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" and "Sway"), balladeers ("Moonlight Mile" and "Wild Horses"), and they also throw in some heavy blues with a cover of "You Gotta Move". Sticky Fingers prominently showcases the saxophone playing of Bobby Keys, who basically became a sixth member of the band and recorded and toured with them for years after. It's also a showcase for Mick Taylor's guitar playing and listening to the solos on "Sway" gives new fans an idea of how good Taylor was as a Stone.

Some Girls (1978)

While it is tempting to put Exile on Main St. here, it's more of an album for the anointed as opposed to new Stones fans. Some Girls boasts 10 very good songs including the hit singles "Miss You" and "Beast of Burden". Produced by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it's another diverse collection with Jagger as the driving force after Richards was busted in Toronto for heroin possession and had to deal with that issue. But Richards did pen and sing lead vocal on "Before They Make Me Run", which has become one of his trademark songs. Then there's a song like "Far Away Eyes", a country classic that grows and grows on you. Some Girls represents the last truly great album the Stones would record, and it's a must-listen for new fans of the band.

Check out our look at the five best Stones songs co-written by Mick Taylor.