Sunday, September 29, 2013


(C) 2013 Goomba Music

  1. Rockstar's Girlfriend
  2. Where I Lay
  3. New Life
  4. Angels On Fire
  5. Not Today
  6. Callous
  7. Even When 
  8. High
  9. Get Over You 
  10. Hollow
  11. Better 
  12. Down On Me
Rob Banks--guitars
Jason Lollio--Bass
Jason Hartless--Drums

Additional Musicians
Steve Richards--Guitars on 3

From the moment "Rockstar's Girlfriend" kicks in, to the fading seconds of "Down On Me", the listener gets the sense that Detroit rockers, Pistol Day Parade, are here to serve notice that their brand of modern hard rock deserves to be listened to.  Forget big name record labels.  Forget massive promotion campaigns.  What matters in today's music scene is hard work, determination, guts, and, most importantly, a product that demands to be listened to.  Pistol Day Parade delivers just that with their new album, Burn.

Burn can be best described as part throwback to the post-grunge scene of the late-90's, part modern hard rock, and a touch of arena rock all wadded up into a rough ball and then jammed into your ears!  At times the band reminds me of the hardest rocking parts of a band like Hinder's All American Nightmare album, especially on the scathing, snarky "Rockstar's Girlfriend" with it's biting commentary about plastic hangers-on seeking fame and fortune through others.  If this sounds reminiscent of Hinder's "Striptease" it is, but it is not a copycat song at all, although it rocks every bit as hard.  The music doesn't back off from here, however, as several tracks are designed to crush the listener just as hard, or harder, with "New Life" being on of the most powerful as Fuller finds himself venturing a bit into screamer territory while the band adds some borderline metallic riffs to the music with some assistance on guitar from Steve Richards of Taproot. "High", which is a lovely little ditty about drug-addicted hookers, is another quality rocker that will have heads bobbing (no pun intended) and fists pounding with the rhythm.   

Of course, to make it in the modern rock world, there have to be a couple of more radio-friendly tracks, which PDP provide here alongside the harder rocking material.  However, when we are talking radio tracks here, we aren't talking your Top 40-styled rock songs that Nickelback and their ilk tend to offer up.  Instead, PDP keeps the rock mostly intact, just adding a bit more emotion to the lyrics and slowing things down a notch or two in spots, but aiming more for the airplay of satellite radio than your hometown hits station.  Album single, "Not Today", is a prime example of this type of track, as is "Better", which I'm not sure will actually find its way onto radio...but should.  "Hollow" is another emotion-filled track that offers considerably more than the cookie-cutter rock that floods radio today, and a song like "Angels On Fire" offer power and depth that is rarely heard outside of a band like Another Lost Year, Wayland, or similar acts that sit on the fringe of true rockstar status without compromising their style and sound to fit into current trends.

While they don't necessarily reinvent the wheel, Pistol Day Parade does seem to make the rock n roll machine speed along more smoothly without the bumps of stripped down acoustic numbers or bloated string sections that so many acts use without truly understanding how to properly include them.  No, Pistol Day Parade is exactly what they claim to be inside the liner notes of  Burn: they are American Rock N Roll, nothing more, nothing less.  They just do it better than most bands you have already heard of.  Hopefully Pistol Day Parade will be the next modern hard rock band to really break out and take their music to the masses.

Rating:  A definite crankable album here.  Spin the knob up to 8.5 for Pistol Day Parade's Burn!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

JOHN CORABI "Unplugged"

(c) 2012 Rat Pak Records
  1. Love (I Don't Need It Anymore)
  2. If I Never Got To Say Goodbye
  3. Are You Waiting
  4. Crash
  5. Everything's Alright
  6. Father, Mother, Son
  7. Hooligan's Holiday
  8. If I Had A Dime
  9. Loveshine
  10. Man In The Moon
  11. Open Your Eyes
  12. I Never Loved Her Anyway
John Corabi--Vocals, Guitars
D.A. Karkos--Guitars
Topher Nolan--Bass
Cheney Brannon--Drums
Matt Farley--Drums
Guest Appearance:
Bruce Kulick--Guitars on 7 and 10
John Corabi has had an interesting career, to say the least.  Always seemingly the "replacement guy" in various bands (Motley Crue, Ratt) or "the guy" in projects that just fell short in terms of popularity and radio play (The Scream, Union, Angora, Brides of Destruction), Corabi has made a career as a musician that everyone knows but maybe doesn't know quite how they know him.  As such, I thought it was somewhat odd that the first truly solo Corabi disc to be released was not only an acoustic album, but also an album make up largely of other people's songs.  To be honest, I was completely ready to write the album off from the second I received it.  I mean, after all, who really wants to hear an acoustic version of "Hooligan's Holiday"?
Let me just say this...I'm really glad I didn't write it off.
Corabi's Unplugged is the acoustic album I wish ALL acoustic albums would be.  Beautifully performed, the songs here take on fresh, new life in their electric-less-ness, with the afore mentioned "Hooligan's Holiday" being a perfect example.  Already one of the best, most underrated songs in the entire Motley Crue catalog (off the most underrated Crue album...but I digress), "Hooligan's Holiday" is morphed into a funky acoustic rocker that immediately gets your head bobbing and your toe tapping.  Corabi's pal from the ESP and Union days, Bruce Kulick, drops in as the guest guitarist on this track (as well as, oddly enough, a Scream song later), and adds some fancy fretwork to the number.  From that same Crue album, "Loveshine" also ditches the somewhat grungy tone that Crue had utilized and turns the track into something much brighter in sound, allowing his voice to really soar on this tune. 
Other tracks from his past get the chance to shine here as well, with the Union track, "Love (I Don't Need It Anymore)" fighting with "Hooligan's Holiday" for highlight of the album for me.  What a killer way to open the album and to introduce the listener to the concept of this record, which is an extremely talented vocalist and guitar player getting the chance to show people his own vision for the songs featured here.  Another Union song, the Beatles-inspired"Everything's Alright", is also featured, although a lot of people probably won't know where the track comes from as the original version was on the very poorly received album, The Blue Room.  
Three tracks from Corabi's first "big" band, The Scream, are also featured here, with two being hits and one missing a bit.  "Father, Mother, Son", is a touching song, to be sure, and it is made all the more poignant in this acoustic setting, really letting the lyrics take over the song with the music more just a way to keep things going forward and not being the driving force behind the song.  "Man In The Moon" is again very solid with Kulick popping up once again to help liven things up.  Why he's on a Scream track I'm not sure, but it doesn't really matter, as it bears only a passing musical resemblence to the original.  The other Scream track, "I Never Loved Her Anyway", finds things getting a bit a bit too bluegrassy for me, a bit too "old country song about trains" in its rhythm and delivery (give the track a listen and I GUARANTEE you will understand that description!).  It feels like I'm at a boyscout retreat singing around a campfire and doesn't really pack the emotional punch tat so much of the other material does here, at least for me. 
There are also five new songs here, with most of them belonging to the better half of the material here.  My favorite of the new songs is easily "If I Had A Dime" which has some great lyrical jabs at scorned lover, and "Open Your Eyes", which as a moody, yet not depressing feel to it...somber, but somehow hopeful.  Again, great songwriting really carries this track, allowing the lyrics and the music work together instead of fighting each other for attention within the song.  Both tracks are solid examples of how artists should approach this style of music to keep the head-banger in all of us paying attention and not hitting the skip button, much the way Guns N Roses was able to keep us from throwing Lies out the window!   Solid songwriting saved the day then, and it does it again here.
I find myself coming back to this record on a  very frequent basis, regardless of my mood or the setting.  There is just something compelling about the way Corabi puts himself out there on this effort, leaving himself in a position that would be considered vulnerabilty if done by a lesser-talented performer.  After giving this album multiple spins through, it really is too bad that Corabi was never given the due he deserved in his other bands, and one can only hope that he is able to at least garner some of the acclaim with Unplugged that he was not able to find previously. 
Corabi is playing numerous dates around the country this summer and fall, and it is my hope that when he brings his acoustic act to Skull Fest in October, he will bring the best of this album along with him, in addition to a few more surprises! 
The one thing I could do without (and I always say this) is the interview track (13...I didn't list it above), as I really hate having to skip these tracks once I have given them the one-time-spin that I sometimes (although not always) do.  It's unnecessary, especially when the songs do such a great job of speaking for themselves.  A small distraction, especially in the digital age of just downloading what you want, but when you are a CD person like me, it's just a skip track that interferes the flow of a great album.
Rating:  Crankable is an odd word for an acoustic record, but crankable is what this is.  A solid 8 on the crankability scale!  Rock on, John...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

LOVEBLAST "Hard Liquor In Big Glasses"

(c) 2013 Loveblast

  1. Wild Forever
  2. In Your Arms Tonight
  3. Rain On Me
  4. Hard Liquor In Big Glasses
  5. When We Were Young
Brian Durbin--Vocals, Guitar
Brian Gilmanov--Guitars
Johnny Rox--Bass
Jeff Dewbray--Drums

Chicago has become something of a hotbed of hard rock, with The Last Vegas drawing so many people's attention to the Windy City, and other bands such as Hessler getting people to take a look as well.  Perhaps less well known than TLV, yet absolutely no less talented, is one of the newer offerings from the home of Da Bears...Loveblast!

While their latest release is a short, 5-song EP, that does not mean that the music here is short on talent or delivery.  Far from it.  Each one of these well-crafted songs combines punch-in-the-gut guitar work, a solid, thumping bottom end, and Durbin's nicely controlled, mid-range tenor vocals.  With sleazy, but not filthy, lyrics, catchy rhythms, and a touch of modern production, Hard Liquor In Big Glasses is perfect hard rocking fun that seems to find itself wedged into my CD player on a frequent basis!

If I was forced to pin down one song as my favorite, it would be a nearly impossible task, as two songs really snag my attention when I spin this disc.  The title track is catchy as heck, with a great sing-along chorus and some nifty trade-offs between the guitars and the bass in the rhythm of the song.  Durbin's vocals are in top-notch form here, and the more melodic approach of this track is one that allows the band to expand their sound a bit without changing who they are.  The same can be said on the heaviest track here, "Rain On Me", which pours on the sleaze with a bump-and-grind rhythm and all-over-the-place vocals that find Durbin growling, singing, snarling, and sneering alternately...and seemingly at the same time!  Once again, some excellent guitar work is featured here, along with the tightest drumming on the release.  Just a killer number that shows this band could easily tackle this style every bit as easily as they handled the more straight-ahead hard rock of the title track.

Picking these two as my favorites is not intended to take away from the other songs here, as there are no skippers at all.  The album opens in punchy, heavy fashion, showcasing a smooth vocal approach from Durbin and some awesome guitar work, not to mention the driving bass that blasts the track out of the bridge which finds Durbin utilizing more of a whispered vocal effect, which was interesting to hear.  "In Your Arms Tonight" is the closest the band comes to slowing things down, and it really isn't all that close, as this is definitely not some sappy ballad, with some driving bass lines, layered vocals on the choruses, and a catchy "whoa oh" complimented chorus.  Themore "hair metal" oriented "When We Were Young" takes the Loveblast sound and tosses in just a dash of pop songwriting sensibility, sweetening up the sleaze ever so slightly.  This is definitely the most pure 80's sounding of the five tracks here, but it doesn't come across as mimicry or mockery at all, as the band is obviously having fun as they bounce along on this song as they close out the too-short-EP.

Complaints are few and far between and are mostly focused on the packaging and album length.  The CD comes in a simple cardboard slipcase with no pictures, lyrics, etc., which is a bummer.  The album's biggest detractor for me is the shortness...clocking in at just over 20 minutes when I was fully settled in and ready for at least twice that!  Talk about your teases!  

Loveblast will be hitting the road this summer, playing various shows and festivals, including Skull Fest, which will find the band taking the stage in support of Jack Russell, Phil Lewis (LA Guns), Oni Logan (Lynch Mob) Killer Dwarfs, and others!  Check 'em out and be sure to snag this EP while you're there, as you will want to be playing it for the drive home!

Rating:  Short, but crankable!  Twist it up to 8.5!