Return To Forever – Returns (2009)

FrontCover1.jpgReturns is a live album by the fusion band Return to Forever. Released in 2009, it is the first recording by the band after a hiatus of 32 years. A video recording of the band’s live performances from the “Returns” tour at Montreux, Switzerland and (bonus material) Clearwater, Florida was also released in 2009 by Eagle Rock Entertainment as Return to Forever – Returns: Live at Montreux 2008. (by wikipedia)

When Chick Corea reassembled the members of the most commercially successful version of his Return to Forever ensemble in 2008 and embarked on an extensive tour, it was the jazz fusion event of the year. Younger fans barely born when the ensemble’s high watermark, Romantic Warrior, was released in 1976 could finally see the group in the flesh. Based on this sizzling double-CD document culled from the tour’s highlights, 32 years didn’t dim the quartet’s enthusiasm or uncanny instrumental precision and interplay. It includes extended versions of half the tunes on Romantic Warrior, the title cut from No Mystery, and three selections from Where Have I Known You Before, with that disc’s “Song to the Pharaoh Kings” clocking in at a whopping 27 minutes. Corea keeps his synths reproducing the ’70s sounds of the original recordings, which is great for those who want to relive the albums, but brings a somewhat dated touch to much of this. In reality, there are very few bands in 2008 creating this space-progressive jazz-rock fusion, and certainly none with the fine-tuned talents of these guys.

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Those chops are displayed early on a 13-minute version of “Vulcan Worlds” that can only be described as explosive — so much so that it elicits multiple rounds of rapturous applause as each member takes his turn in the spotlight. It’s especially exciting to hear guitarist Al di Meola once again shredding with his old band, since much of his recent material has been acoustic and world music-oriented. Stanley Clarke remains one of jazz’s finest bassists, grounding the sound but also taking dynamic solos that place his instrument in a lead guitar position. Hearing him trading frenzied, electrified licks with di Meola is one of the many pleasures of this reunion.

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But the band is intent on showing its quieter side too, with individual and duo collaborations that are predominantly unplugged. First up, Corea and di Meola join forces on “Children’s Song #3,” then the guitarist romps on acoustic as the piece ends with Corea returning to join in on his famed “Spain.” Disc two tamps down the fireworks by featuring lengthy acoustic improvisational work from Corea, Clarke, and drummer Lenny White in that order, that provides a contrast, some might say breathing room, to the fiery group compositions, but also drag down the energy and slow the show’s momentum. For jazz students, this is a mini master class for each instrument, yet how often others will return to these sections that comprise nearly half an hour of the second platter’s running time is questionable. A 12-minute “bonus track” of “500 Miles High,” a song from Light as a Feather, the RTF album with an earlier version of the band that did not include di Meola or White, is tacked on to the second disc. The set closes with producer Sir George Martin presenting the BBC Lifetime Achievement Award to the band, Corea’s brief acceptance speech, and a short acoustic performance of “Romantic Warrior.” It should be noted that this album’s sleeve photos are from the associated DVD of the band’s Montreux 2008 set, but only one tune here was recorded at that performance. (by Hal Horowitz)

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Personnel:
Stanley Clarke (bass)
Chick Corea (keyboards, synthesizer)
Al Di Meola (guitar)
Lenny White (drums)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Opening Prayer (Corea) 2.04
02. Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy (Corea) 3.44
03. Vulcan Worlds (Clarke) 13.45
04. Sorceress (White) 11.22
05. Song To The Pharaoh Kings (Corea) 27.14
06. Al’s Solo, including (Corea, DiMeola, Piazzolla) 8.54
06.01. Children’s Song #3 (duet with Chick Corea) (Corea)
06.02. Passion Grace & Fire (Di Meola)
06.03. Mediterranean Sundance (Di Meola)
06.03. Café 1930 (Piazzolla)
06.04. Spain (duet with Chick Corea) (Corea)
07. No Mystery (Corea) 8.53

CD 2:
08. Friendship (Corea) /Solar (Davis) 8.53
09. Romantic Warrior (I) (Corea) 7.20
10. El Bayo de Negro (*) (Clarke) 11.26
11. Lineage (White) 7.39
12. Romantic Warrior (II) (Corea) 3.03
13. Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (Corea) 14.04
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14. 500 Miles High (Corea) 12.48
15. BBC Lifetime Achievement Award to RTF as presented by Sir George Martin, including a performance of ‘Romantic Warrior’ (Corea) 8.20

(*) one of the finest bass solos ever !

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Shakura S’aida – The Blueprint (2008)

FrontCover1Blues singer Shakura S’Aida (pronounced “Shack-oora Sigh-ee-da”) was born in Brooklyn and raised in Switzerland before settling in Toronto. She first began singing professionally with a Toronto band called Mystique, after which she worked with the world music band Kaleefah. Simultaneously, she pursued a legitimate stage career, appearing in Canadian productions of such shows as Ain’t Misbehavin’, and acted on television and in films. As a singer, she provided backup vocals for Patti LaBelle, performed in a Ray Charles tribute band, and appeared on albums by Bill King and Saturday Nite Fish Fry. Her own debut solo album, Blueprint, released by UMI on February 19, 2008, was a collection of blues songs of the 1940s and ‘50s. Two years later, the German label Ruf Records released her second album, Brown Sugar, which consisted largely of her own original compositions, co-written with her guitarist, Donna Grantis. (by William Ruhlmann)

Shakuras debut solo album signals a new beginning with some old music. She did songs that she felt gave her something to sing about. Songs that were once sung by Big Maybelle, Memphis Minnie, Big Mama Thornton and other phenomenal women of the time become Shakuras personal anthems. Recording with the best of Toronto talent gave Shakuras blues a new canvas to paint on. (Editorial Reviews, amazon)

Blues and soul with very much emotional singing, shouting, screaming. her best (Hugo V.)

We should remember her name … what a great voice !

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Personnel:
Howard Ayee (bass)
Michelle Josef (drums)
Dennis Keldie (keyboards)
Shakura S’Aida (vocals)
Simon Wallis (saxophone)
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Harrison Kennedy (guitar, vocals, harmonica on 09., harmonica on 10.)
David Rotundo (harmonica on 07.)
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background vocals:
Jackie Richardson – Shannon Maracle

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Tracklist:
01. No More Troubles Out Of Me (McCoy/Singleton) 3.30
02. He Doesn’t Care (About My Broken Heart) (Pryce) 5.35
03. One Monkey Don’t Stop The Show (McCoy/Singleton) 3.33
04. Getting Along Alright (Sharp/Singleton) 5.07
05. Stop It Baby (King) 3.44
06. Rain Down Rain (Chase) 5.09
07. Las Vegas Blues (S’Aida) 5.45
08. Me And My Chauffeur Blues (Lawlar) 4.11
09. Big City Lights (Have U Seen My Baby) (Randle) 3.29
10. I’m Living With The Blues (B.McGhee/R.McGhee) 2.53
11. Gotta Live (S’Aida) 5.01

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Various Artists – We Wish You A Metal Xmas And A Headbanging New Year (2008)

FrontCover1This is a2008 holiday release. Deck the halls with long haired rockers, decorate the tree with Flying Vs! Yes, it’s time to pump your fists and bang your heads to the crunching sounds of a Metal Christmas with many of your fave Hard Rockers ringing in the holiday season in style. 11 tracks that feature collaborations from artists like Lemmy, Dave Grohl, Alice Cooper, Billy Sheehan, Tim Ripper Owens, Joe Lynn Turner, Tommy Shaw, Ronnie James Dio and many others.

If you have not heard of this release yet, well its time you do. The perfect stocking stuffer for that headbanging thrasher in your family come on you know every family has at least one. Extremely well produced and featuring many of metals best players. We Wish You A Metal XMas And A Headbanging New Year is actually a very decent recording to add to your collection or download from iTunes to your xmas holiday playlist like I did. My favorite track would for sure be Run Rudolph Run featuring Lemmy on vocals, it just bleeds coolness.

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Hearing Dio belt out God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, like only Ronnie can is almost kind of spooky, and dark, and actually bad ass! For fans of cookie monster style vocals, you will enjoy Silent Night like you have never heard it before and hearing Geoff Tate sing Silver Bells is pretty cool. Now for me this is not a cd I would enjoy year round, but around the holidays I will be happy to fire it up each year as a new tradition. (by fullmetalrock.com)

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Tracklist:

Jeff Scott Soto, Bruce Kulick, Bob Kulick, Chris Wyse & Ray Luzier:
01. We Wish You A Merry Xmas (Traditional) 4.39

Lemmy Kilmister, Billy F. Gibbons & Dave Grohl:
02. Run Rudolph Run (Berry) 4.00

Alice Cooper, John 5, Billy Sheehan & Vinny Appice:
03. Santa Claws Is Coming To Town (Gillespie/Coots) 4.19

Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzo & Simon Wright:
04. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Tradiitional) 4.07

Geoff Tate, Carlos Cavazo, James Lomenzo & Ray Luzier:
05. Silver Bells (Evans/Livingstone) 5.05

Dug Pinnick, George Lynch, Billy Sheehan & Simon Phillips:
06. Little Drummer Boy (Simeone/Onerati/Davis) 4.37

Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens*, Steve Morse, Juan Garcia, Marco Mendoza & Vinny Appice:
07. Santa Claus Is Back In Town (Leiber/Mike Stoller) 4.01

Chuck Billy, Scott Ian, Jon Donais, Chris Wyse & John Tempesta:
08. Silent Night (Gruber/Mohr) 4.11

Oni Logan, Craig Goldy, Tony Franklin & John Tempesta:
09. Deck The Halls (Traditional) 4.10

Stephen Pearcy, Tracii Guns, Bob Kulick, Billy Sheehan & Greg Bissonette:
10. Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer (Brooks) 4.41

Joe Lynn Turner, Bruce Kulick, Bob Kulick, Rudy Sarzo & Simon Wright:
11. Rockin’ Around The Xmas Tree (Marks) 3.21

Tommy Shaw, Steve Lukather, Marco Mendoza & Kenny Aronoff:
12. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (Lennon/Ono) 4.27

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The Banshee – Your Nice Habits (2008)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Banshee fomed in Genova (Italy) in 2001, while the guys were still teenagers.
“Public Talks”, their first album, was released in Italy on Suiteside Oct. 2006, and then distributed in Nov. 2007 by Fading Ways Music in UK , Canada and Benelux.
The album got an enthusiast quote in the NME Breaking Bands column, airplay on Radio 1 and BBC6 by Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson, two successful UK tours and Belgium gigs.
The Banshee appeal lies in their cool fucked-up attitude, in the apparently carelessness they jump in throwing the songs on stage. It’s the charm of not average indie pop-hooks people can relate easily to.
With lots of new ideas The Banshee entered Red House Studio in Senigallia (Ancona, Italy) to record their second album – titled “Your Nice Habits”, with the production of Luke Smith (ex-Clor, already producer for Shit Disco, To My Boy, Theoretical Girl, frYars). It was February 2008, then Luke Smith mixed the ten tracks in March in his London home studio.
Mastering has been done at Optimum Mastering Ltd in Bristol by Luke and Shawn Joseph.
“Your Nice Habits” shows the band at its best, with clean songwriting and memorable hooks matching groovy wave beats, electro burst and undeceived lyrics.
With an increasing amount of blogs and webzines around the world spreading the word about The Banshee, “Your Nice Habits” has been released in Italy in September ’08 and then in Europe (G/A/S – Benelux) on Fading Ways January 30, 2009 (distribution Sonic Rendez-Vous / Alive! PR gordon@tomlab), with a one month european tour following in February.
End of March ’09 the Oxford based label Shifty Disco (Young Knives, Elf Power, King of Spain..) released in the UK the “People Around DLEP”, taking The Banshee to new levels on Uk venues and on XFM, while BBC6’s Tom Robinson topped “Your Nice Habits” as “Best Album of the Year 2008”. (suiteside.wordpress.com)

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Leave it to the Italians. 2008 will, ifsuiteside.wordpress.com) nothing else go down as the year of 80s electro pop/punk/new wave revival. We’ve had the faux fourth world africanisms of Vampire Weekend, and the fizzy electronic Devo-lution of Hot Chip, but if you really want to recreate the heady rush of early Wire or XTC (when they still had Barry Andrews punching the organ) then look no further than Genova’s The Banshee. In the same way that our Mediterranean cousins keep the flame of prog burning brighter than it did in 1973, so they also manage to have produced new wave that’s more art school bonkers than it was in 1979.

You know what we mean: hi-hats rattle, jerky snares snap, synths bleep and guitars bark. The vaguely militaristic rhythms beat out a robotic two-step and it’s all you can do not to rush out and get yourself some skin tight jeans and an assymetrical barnet-job. The vaguely flanged, bleaty vocals can remind one of Gary Numan, but really, they have more to do with the (far cooler) Colin Newman (yes, there’s no trace of a Latin accent here). And there’s another reason why you should spend your hard earned paper round money on these boys – they were produced by Luke Smith of the much-missed Clor: another outfit who wouldn’t have looked out of place on the same bill as the Gang Of Four.

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While Your Nice Habits never really lets up in terms of energy, spunk and verve, it can pall a little in its relentless angularity. For lovers of art rock this won’t really be a problem, but you can’t help thinking that this makes them a tad unsexy. Still, such enthusiasm can only be applauded. They should have called it Bandierina Rosa. (Chris Jones )

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Personnel:
Fish (bass)
Jago (vocals, guitar, keyboards synthesizer)
Nico (guitar, vocals, samples)
Patrick (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Cut Me Clear 3.15
02. Kicks Up 3.41
03. 3rd 3.30
04 Face 3.45
05. Russia 3.46
06. Electric 2.52
07. Believe The Master 3.43
08. Evening Dress 3.08
09. People Around 4.10
10. C.older 4.13

All songs written by Fish – Jago – Nico and Patrick

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Teddy Thompson – A Piece Of What You Need (2008)

FrontCover1Called “one of the most gifted singer-songwriters of his generation,” by The New York Times, singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson is a native Englishman who has adopted New York City as his home; famously the son of singer-songwriters Richard and Linda Thompson, he emigrated to the States almost twenty years ago, barely out of his teens, to embark on a career of his own.
He was heavily influenced not by folk music but by such artists as Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and the Everly Brothers.  As NPR reported, “He has said he didn’t listen to any music made after 1959 until he was 16. As a kid, he listened to early rock ‘n’ roll and country music exclusively.”  This resulted in a unique voice that is at once rock and country, then pop and folk.
While music is in his DNA, Thompson sings with his own voice, a powerfully understated, emotional, echoey croon.  (The Guardian)

Since arriving in the United States, he has released five albums to critical acclaim and has contributed to many works, including his solo “I Don’t Want to Say Goodbye” and duet “King of the Road,” with Rufus Wainwright, from the soundtrack to the Golden Globe- and Bafta-winning film Brokeback Mountain.  He has also collaborated on projects with Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Jenni Muldaur, and others.  Thompson recorded two solo songs for the soundtrack to the Leonard Cohen tribute I’m Your Man:  “Tonight Will be Fine” and “The Future.”  He also contributed two songs to the album The Songs of Nick Drake: Way to Blue, a retrospective on the late singer.
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The Thompson Family

In 2015, Teddy and his family released the album Family, a collaborative project in which each member of the extended family wrote and recorded two songs–from wherever they live.  This meant that recording took place from Los Angeles to London, then the final product was produced by Teddy in New York.  It was released in early 2015 under the name Thompson.
Thompson is based out of New York City, where in his free time, he performs with his rockabilly cover band, Poundcake. (take from the Teddy Thompson Website)
A Piece of What You Need is the fourth studio album by singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson. The album contains all new Teddy originals and was produced by Marius De Vries, whom Teddy met while recording background vocals on Rufus Wainwright’s Want records in 2002. Included are new songs Teddy had been testing out live, such as “Turning the Gun On Myself”, “In My Arms” and “Can’t Sing Straight”.
The album debuted on the UK Albums Chart at #10. The first single from A Piece of What You Need is “In My Arms”. The music video features a cameo appearance by Rufus Wainwright dressed up as Elvis Presley. The song entered the UK Singles Chart at #107 (by wikipedia)

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The son of folk-rock titans Richard and Linda, Teddy Thompson hated his 2000 debut, but has described his fourth album as “close to the record I’ve always wanted to make”. Producer Marius de Vries (Rufus Wainwright/Björk) delivers a cinematic soundscape, but Thompson’s golden voice is always centre-stage. With hints of Roy Orbison and early Bruce Springsteen, the chugging rhythms and instantly memorable melodies conceal real emotional drive. Concerning loss, regret and bad decisions made at life’s crossroads, these are songs that radiate anguish but don’t sound too down about it. Indeed, several of them – especially the turbo-crooned Don’t Know What I Was Thinking – deserve to be sung from speeding cars. Thompson has emerged from his parents shadows to deliver one of this year’s best. (by theguardian.com)
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Teddy Thompson with his parents, Richard and Linda Thompson

“File under: Pop” a polite message reads on the back cover of Teddy Thompson’s fourth full-length album, A Piece of What You Need, and in this case no one can accuse the product of not living up to its billing. Thompson’s first two albums were beautiful collections of moody folk-leaning indie pop that confirmed it was possible to sound dour and passionate at the same time, and his third set, Upfront & Down Low, was a glorious celebration of heartache as portrayed in 11 classic country weepers, but A Piece of What You Need finds him sounding unexpectedly upbeat for a change, and the shift in attitude works remarkably well. “What’s this? What’s this? Am I happy or something?” Thompson asks on the disc’s second tune, and while much of the time he still seems to be having trouble in the eternal search for the woman of his dreams, with producer Marius de Vries behind the controls (who has previously worked with David Gray, Melanie C, Josh Groban, and Thompson’s pal Rufus Wainwright), most of these meditations on the joys and pitfalls of romance have a good beat and you can even dance to them. “What’s This?!!” and “In My Arms” sound like potential hit singles, complete with snappy beats and slick harmonies, but de Vries has also made the most of Thompson’s rich, strong voice, and the melodies are well served by the sweet but intelligent arrangements and production. And it’s clear de Vries hasn’t forced a more polished sound on Thompson against his will; “Where to Go from Here” and “Slippery Slope” would have sounded right at home on Thompson’s sadly overlooked debut, “Turning the Gun on Myself” is just as lovely and severe as it needs to be, and “Jonathan’s Book” could be “Paperback Writer” from the other side of the camera. Teddy Thompson has taken a more user-friendly approach on A Piece of What You Need, but he hasn’t sold his soul or lost what makes him special along the way, and this is a clever, adventurous, and thoroughly engaging exercise in smart pop that’s as thoughtful as it is pleasurable. (by Mark Deming)

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Personnel:
Jeff Hill (bass)
Matt Johnson (drums, percussion)
Jack Petruzzeli (guitar, mandolin)
Teddy Thompson (guitar, vocals, mandolin, ukulele)
Marius de Vries (keyboards, synthesizer, Percussion)
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Dave Lee (french horn on 04., 06., 09.)
Justin McDermid (trumpet on 04., 06., 09.)
David Powell (tuba on 04., 06.), 09.
Neil Sidwell (trombone on 04., 06., 09.)
Chris Storr (trumpet on 04., 06., 09.)
Richard Thompson (guitar on 05., 07.)
Fayyaz Virgi (trombone on 04., 06., 09.)
Phil Woods (french 0n 04., 06., 09.)
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background vocals:
Jenni Muldaur – Kamila Thompson – Jenn Turner

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Tracklist:
01. The Things I Do 3.44
02. What’s This?!! 3.23
03. In My Arms 3.14
04. Where To Go From Here 3.13
05. Don’t Know What I Was Thinking 3.53
06. Can’t Sing Straight 3.43
07. Slippery Slope (Easier) 4.13
08. Jonathan’s Book 4.40
09. One Of These Days 2.50
10  Turning The Gun On Myself 4.20
11. A Piece Of What You Need 5.01
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12. The Price Of Love (hidden track) 3.38

All Songs written by Teddy Thompson excact “The Price Of Love”, which was written by Don and Phil Everly (The Everly Brothers)
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Witchking – Hand Of Justice (2008)

FrontCover1Witchking are a heavy metal band from Poland, formed in 2003 as Steel Crown by Mateusz “Gajdek” Gajdzik (guitar), Marcin “Dziadek” Jungiewicz (drums) and Dariusz “Rambo” Bieniek (bass), all previously of the thrash metal band Rapid Fire.

In 2004 Witchking released a demo, Under The Siege, with their line-up completed by Kamil “Czamil” Łacina (vocals) and Tomasz “Hadra” Pater.

By the time of their self-titled debuts release in 2007, Kamil “Czamil” Łacina had been replaced by Tomasz “Tom The Storm” Twardowski and Dariusz “Rambo” Bieniek by Andrzej “Sado” Sadowski. Marcin “Dziadek” Jungiewicz was also later replaced by Krzysztof “Banan” Nowakowski before the release of the band’s 2008 album Hand of Justice.

In 2009 Tomasz “Tom The Storm” Twardowski departed Witching. He was replaced by Michal Zaczek, however Witching have yet to record with the new vocalist and are considered to be on hold as of 2010. (by metalmusicarchives.com)

Every now and then you stumble across something that just blows away everything else you have been listening too. Well that is the case with Witchking’s second album Hand of Justice. Out on Insanity Records from Poland, where Witchking reside as well. The thing that makes this album so damn good is its straight ahead pure Heavy Metal approach. Think classic Metal Church, Annihilator or Vicious Rumors and that’s a little of what you can expect. The guitar work is top notch from Hardo & Gajdek, from heavy chunky riffs to ear piercing solos. The very impressive vocals of Tom “The Storm” is the big thing for me on Hand Of Justice. Very good mid range and can hit them high notes with ease. Reminds me of Midnight from Crimson Glory in parts. But not as high. All this would not be at all possible if it was not for the engine room of Sado (Bass) & Banan (Drums) that keep the machine galloping along at a nice speed. Neck breaking at times, especially on M Impact WOOHOOO!!!!!!

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I can’t recommend Hand of Justice enough; there are 10 tracks of pure energy with no filler. No one track stands out because they are all so bloody good. The album artwork is even old school. “Love It” This is how I use to feel 20 years ago when I would race into my room and put on the latest record I just brought not knowing what to expect J If you are after some traditional pure Heavy Metal but with today’s technology production and a fresh sound. Then you MUST go and buy this today. Spread the word brothers of Metal. (by powerofmetal.dk)

Not my kind of music, but you know the message of this blog: Many fantastic colors …

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Personnel:
Mateusz Gajdzik (guitar)
Krzysztof Nowakowski (drums)
Tomasz Pater (guitar)
Andrzej Sadowski (bass)
Tomasz Twardowski (vocals)
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Tomasz Zalewski (acoustic guitar on 11.)

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Tracklist:
01. Intro instrumental 1.04
02. Magic Number 4.01
03. Greed and Fear 4.44
04. Hand of Justice 3.55
05. The Third One 4.58
06. Planet Is Burning 5.05
07. Choice of Masters 4.48
08. M Impact 5.34
09. Mental Trap 4.14
10. Metal Grail 4.31
11. Doomsday 4.15

Music + lyrics: Mateusz Gajdzik – Krzysztof Nowakowski – Tomasz Pater – Andrzej Sadowski – Tomasz Twardowski

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Vampire Weekend – Same (2008)

FrontCover1Vampire Weekend is the debut studio album by the American indie rock band Vampire Weekend, released in January 2008 on XL Recordings. The album was produced by band member Rostam Batmanglij, with mixing assistance from Jeff Curtin and Shane Stoneback.

In the United States, the album sold over 27,001 copies in the first week of its release, debuting at number 17 on the Billboard 200 and as of 20 January 2010, has sold nearly half a million copies. In the album’s 11th week in the UK chart, it peaked at number 15. The album also reached number 37 in Australia.

The album’s cover photo is a Polaroid picture from one of their early shows in Columbia University.

The first single, “Mansard Roof”, was released on October 28, 2007. The second single, “A-Punk”, was released in early 2008. The album was ranked as the 5th-best album of 2008 by Time, the 56th-best album of the decade by Rolling Stone and 51st on Pitchfork’s list of the Top 200 Albums of the 2000s. In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked the album number 430 on its list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. The album was also ranked 24 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 greatest debut albums of all time, citing them for having inspired a wave of indie bands with world music influences, despite largely criticising the album on its release.

Paul Simon has spoken out in favour of the album, responding to the derision of some for perceived similarities to Simon’s 1986 album Graceland.

The album was recorded in a variety of environments including; a basement where there was “a good set up for recording drums”; a barn; the apartments of two band members and Tree Fort studio in Brooklyn. The locations bore an effect on the sound that was produced, demonstrated by a session recorded early in 2007 at a barn, which resulted in “really echoey drums”.

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In October 2007, the lead singer Ezra Koenig, said that the band had “some of the tracks […] for a long time”, so they were aware of how the album would sound but that it was “just a matter of tightening it up and remixing it a little”. Koenig also said that the band was “really excited” and “psyched” about two songs in particular, which were recorded around September 2007, called “I Stand Corrected” and “M79”. (by wikipedia)

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With the Internet able to build up or tear down artists almost as soon as they start practicing, the advance word and intense scrutiny doesn’t always do a band any favors. By the time they’ve got a full-length album ready to go, the trend-spotters are already several Hot New Bands past them. Vampire Weekend started generating buzz in 2006 — not long after they formed — but their self-titled debut album didn’t arrive until early 2008. Vampire Weekend also has just a handful of songs that haven’t been floating around the ‘Net, which may disappoint the kind of people who like to post “First!” on message boards. This doesn’t make those songs any less charming, however — in fact, the band has spent the last year and a half making them even more charming, perfecting the culture collision of indie-, chamber-, and Afro-pop they call “Upper West Side Soweto” by making that unique hybrid of sounds feel completely effortless. So, Vampire Weekend ends up being a more or less official validation of the long-building buzz around the band, served up in packaging that uses the Futura typeface almost as stylishly as Wes Anderson. At times, the album sounds like someone trying to turn a Wes Anderson movie back into music (it’s no surprise that the band’s keyboardist also writes film scores); there’s a similarly precious yet adventurous feel here, as well as a kindred eye and ear for detail. Everything is concise, concentrated, distilled, vivid; Vampire Weekend’s world is extremely specific and meticulously crafted, and Vampire Weekend often feels like a concept album about preppy guys who grew up with classical music and recently got really into world music.

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Amazingly, instead of being alienating, the band’s quirks are utterly winning. Scholarly grammar (“Oxford Comma”) and architecture (“Mansard Roof”) are springboards for songs with impulsive melodies, tricky rhythms, and syncopated basslines. Strings and harpsichords brush up against African-inspired chants on “M79,” and lilting Afro-pop guitars and a skanking beat give way to Mellotrons on “A-Punk.” It’s a given that a band that’s this high concept has hyper-literate lyrics: the singer’s name is the very writerly Ezra Koenig, and you almost expect to see footnotes in the album’s liner notes. Once again, though, Vampire Weekend’s words are evocative instead of gimmicky. The irresistible “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” rhymes “Louis Vuitton” with “reggaeton” and “Benneton” and name-drops Peter Gabriel (though it’s clear the band spent more time with Paul Simon’s Graceland) without feeling contrived. “Campus” is another standout, with lines like “I see you walking across the campus…how am I supposed to pretend I never want to see you again?” throwing listeners into college life no matter what their age. Koenig has a boyish, hopeful quality to his voice that completes Vampire Weekend, especially on bittersweet but irrepressible songs like “I Stand Corrected” and album closer “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance.” Fully realized debut albums like Vampire Weekend come along once in a great while, and these songs show that this band is smart, but not too smart for their own good. (by Heather Phares)

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Personnel:
Chris Baio (bass)
Rostam Batmanglij (keyboards,  chamberlin, harpsichord, guitar, background vocals, drum and synth programming)
Ezra Koenig (vocals, guitar, piano, percussion)
Christopher Tomson (drums, guitar)
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Hamilton Berry (cello)
Jonathan Chu (violin, viola)
Jeff Curtin (percussion)
Wesley Miles (vocals)
Jessica Pavone (violin, viola)
Joey Roth (percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Mansard Roof (Baio/Batmanglij/Koenig/Tomson) 2.07
02. Oxford Comma (Baio/Batmanglij/Koenig/Tomson) 3.15
03. A-Punk (Baio/Batmanglij/Koenig/Tomson) 2.17
04. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (Baio/Batmanglij/Koenig/Tomson) 3.34
05. M79 (Baio/Batmanglij/Koenig/Tomson) 4.15
06. Campus (Batmanglij/Koenig) 2.56
07. Bryn (Baio/Batmanglij/Koenig/Tomson) 2.13
08. One (Blake’s Got a New Face) (contains elements of “Obeah Wedding” Slinger Francisco) (Baio/Batmanglij/Koenig/Tomson) 3.13
09. I Stand Corrected (Baio/Batmanglij/Koenig/Tomson) 2.39
10. Walcott (Baio/Batmanglij/Koenig/Tomson) 3.41
11. The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance (Baio/Batmanglij/Koenig/Tomson) 4.03

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