Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Post # 186
Chicago's answer for underground, sweaty hard rock, SUTURED PSYCHE, released their debut CD 'Bastard Nation' in the latter part of 2011. A few months prior to that, they had issues a 3-track EP, which contained one song that didn't make the cut for the 'Bastard Nation' release. Here, I will review both of these discs...

Beginning with the early EP, Sutured Psyche present 3 tracks that offer a sampling of their music style and diversity: The Leap, Codependent, and Steven. The Leap is perhaps Sutured Psyche's best example of fast-tempo hard n' heavy rock. This track is sure to get your adrenaline running. A lead guitar establishes the main melody of this song, and is prominent throughout.

Codependent has become a Sutured Psyche classic, at least at their live shows. Featuring a balanced mix of acoustic and electric guitars, soul-searching lyrics, and an almost Irish-drinking-song rhythm, it is one of their easiest songs to sing along with. This one has, so far, only been released on this early 3-track demo recording, though it is available to stream online at their Reverbnation page.

Steven rocks with a significantly darker vibe, and again fuses clean guitar melodies with heavier riffs during the choruses. Switching back and forth throughout, this contrast makes Steven a very memorable song. Personally, I call this my favorite Sutured Psyche song. Check it out and see if you agree: Sutured Psyche-myspace page.

Now on to Bastard Nation:
With this 6-track release, you get twice as much of Sutured Psyche's self-described 'music for bastards'. In fact the title "Bastard Nation" is taken from the mutually accepted reference to their devoted following. Two tracks from the early demo appear here again, with some touch-ups on the recording: The Leap and Steven. However, the other tracks make for a well-rounded sampling of Sutured Psyche. Anyone who has attended a Sutured Psyche show will recognize their staple tracks Invocation, The Trickster-Part 1, and Clarity.

This band gives you an honest, thought-provoking, rough and raw (and often sweaty!) musical experience. The 2-guitar team of Ryan Reilly and Adrian Mann provide catchy melodies, a variety of tone, guitar solos when needed. Brian O'Callaghan gives a solid, steady bass line. Vocalist William Piamon delivers the lyrics with his full, deep voice and plenty of raw emotion. Drop by SUTURED PSYCHE's facebook page to follow their events, and get a sample of their music!

Tracks I recommend:
-The Trickster, Part 1
and of course...
-The Leap

"Maybe you will understand in forever and a day... It's never enough!"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bret Michaels at Timber Creek Inn, Sandwich, IL

Post # 185
On December 30th, 2011, Brett Michaels made an irregular stop on his 'Roses and Thorns' tour... at Sandwich, IL! My brother had an extra ticket and invited me to join him for this event. This was a special occasion for me, because this is actually my home town. Getting to see a big-name performer like this in Sandwich was something I never thought possible, back when I became a fan of Poison in the late 80's. However, a new promoter in the area has been working hard to bring some major entertainment further west of the Chicago suburbs, for just such occasions as this.

This was to be a 2-part event as well. The first half of the show featured local area karaoke contest-winners singing covers, with the 'winner' getting a chance to sing a duet w/ Bret during his set! The first of these contestants was a lady named Desiree, who sang 'Every Rose Has its Thorn'. She really looked the part for an 80's metal band too: black leather vest and bandanna over her hair. Vocally, she nailed this song, doing justice to the original!

The second contestant was a guy named Dave. He looked more like your regular Joe. Jeans, t-shirt, and baseball cap. He could have been anybody from a local farmer, to a trucker, to a college frat-boy, but then the band started playing his song-of-choice: 'Dead or Alive' (Bon Jovi). I know I said that Desiree gave a great performance, but Dave was spot-on too! Looked to me like the local karaoke scene was holding their own, and making the concept of sharing the stage with one of Hair-metal's greatest front-men not so far-fetched after all!

The 3rd contestant must have been out of sorts, or under the weather, for they skipped them. In their place, and to fill up set time, they invited audience members to participate. Here's where the show came down to Earth a bit. Two ladies all the way from Utah came up for a duet next. Andrea and Kendra did two numbers, 'Unskinny Bop' and 'Talk Dirty to Me'. They made the most of their moment in the spotlight, trading vocal parts, but they were not on the same level as the first two performers.

Then we had an intermission. The stage hands moved some equipment on and off of the stage and prepared for Bret Michaels. The PA played numerous hits from the 80's pop-metal era as we waited in anticipation...

Bret came out about 25 minutes later, gave us a warm welcome, and got things rolling right away with his authentic rendition of 'Talk Dirty to Me'! He gave a great performance, rolling out all the big hits form his band Poison's heyday, and playing a few tracks from his new solo-album Custom Built. Some of these included covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Sweet Home Alabama', and Sublime's 'What I Got'. He even performed the theme song from his reality TV show Rock Of Love, 'Go That Far'.

True to his word, during the final number, 'Nothin' But a Good Time', Dave, from the karaoke contest, got to come up on the stage and sing some vocals along with Bret on the final jam of the evening. After the show they even auctioned off the guitar Bret played during 'Fallen Angel' for charity. A very classy gesture!

I had a hell of a time, reliving my youth on this night of 80's hair metal mayhem! And, since it was right in my home town, I also got to see a few familiar faces from my school days. It was almost like a class-reunion, with the added benefit of having Bret Michaels play a rock concert at the same time! Definitely not something that happens every day in Sandwich, IL of all places!

Songs featured in the Karaoke segment:
Every Rose Has Its Thorn (sung by Desiree)
Dead or Alive (Bon Jovi cover, sung by Dave)
Unskinny Bop and Talk Dirty to Me (sung by Andrea and Kendra as duet)

Bret's Set:
-Talk Dirty to Me
-Look What the Cat Dragged In
-Sweet Home Alabama
-Go That Far (Theme from Rock of Love)
-Something to Believe In
-Unskinny Bop
-Your Mama Don't Dance
-What I Got (Sublime cover)
-Every Rose Has Its Thorn
-Fallen Angel
-Nothin' But a Good Time

For his new CD, and more info, check out Bret Michaels' website:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ten With Strangers-Wake Up Call (2011)

Post # 184
It has been awhile since Ten With Strangers were featured in this blog's first competition of independent bands back in '09. In that time this band has seen some changes in its line-up, but with renewed commitment and diligence, they delivered their 2nd full-length, independently produced CD, 'Wake Up Call', late last year.

'Wake Up Call' is a bit of a change of pace compared to TWS's first release, Infectious from '04. Where that album came across with an almost post-grunge, alt-rock vibe Ten With Strangers have migrated to a more laid back, pop-rock style while retaining a bit of their hard-rock edge.

One element that has remained a constant for Ten With Strangers is their catchy hooks. Their new singer, Alexi Drikos, provides a melodic vocal delivery while the band gives you plenty of major-key riffs. As a whole, 'Wake Up Call' is packed with up-beat, catchy hard rock tunes and is well worth taking the time to give it a listen. The album is available to preview and download here:

Once you're there check out these tracks I recommend:
-Another Side of Me (First track is a great introduction to Ten With Stranger's new vibe; an up-beat, mid-tempo rocker with a catchy melody.)
-So Long, Goodbye (TWS step up the tempo a little on this one. Vocal melodies are so catchy, they're almost a throw-back to 80's hard rock. Still, it's enough to make this my 2nd-favorite track on the album.)
-Gotta Get Home
-Dying Young (Here's a different flavor from TWS; clean guitar begins like a ballad, though the lyrics carry themes on current, real-world issues.)
-Sometimes (Another melodic number that will have you singing along by the 2nd verse.)
-On My Knees (The album's true ballad. A soft, and beautiful love song, tempered with a blend of acoustic and electric guitars. Vocals: catchy and melodic as always!)
-Wake Up Call (The title track opens with a lead guitar melody that is soon echoed by the vocals. Choruses lift the mood higher with a powerful anthem.)
-The Survival (My favorite track from this album. This one has an element of darkness. Of all the songs collected here, this one is closest in style to their old material from Infectious, but it stands on its own, and is a great song!)

Check out Ten With Strangers on their websites:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cook Library Jam and Jive (2-3-12)

POST #183
There aren't many times when you have a chance to see a mosh-pit at your local library, but on the evening of February 3rd, I got that special opportunity at Cook Memorial Library in Libertyville, IL. It was all part of an almost 6-hour celebration of local music, as some veteran performers from Chicago's local scene bestowed their words of wisdom to the aspiring, younger generation of up-an-coming musicians from local communities in Chicago's northern suburbs.

It all began with an open panel discussion with a Q&A follow-up. The panel featured independent musicians from the surrounding area, hand-picked by yours truly. Petra Sith, formerly of Losing Scarlet, joined JP Soule, Kryssie Ridolfi, and Josh Barker from DEADMANSWAKE, along with Ryan Reilly of Sutured Psyche, as they all shared their personal stories of their music and misadventures in life on the local scene. Persistence and positive attitudes were the universal themes throughout the discussions, although plenty of laughs were had between the panel and audience.

After a very entertaining and inspiring discussion, the party moved upstairs where some of the high school musicians and bands performed some of their own music, mixed with cover songs, in some cases playing in front of a live audience for the first time!

First performer was Sharon Li, who gave us a great performance with her acoustic guitar as she sang several ballads. Next, things got seriously heavy, as Monolith (a band from Antioch, IL) hit the library crowd with their own style of hard-core death metal (complete with a cover of Slayer's 'Angel of Death'!). They were followed by Libertyville's Penguin Flight School, who gave a mix of some original songs and covers of well-known pop-punk hits. My favorite part of their set was probably their cover of Radiohead's 'Creep'. The last band, Chains Unbroken, win my 'THE SHOW MUST GO ON' award, as they made the most of their set time in spite of being without their lead singer. Perhaps heeding some words of wisdom from the earlier panel, they got up there and gave their all, with their guitarist doing his best to sing the vocals, though he was not accustomed to performing both roles. Towards the end, a couple of the panelists and members of other bands gave them a hand and sang the vocals for a few Metallica covers to bring the evening to a close.

It was a great opportunity to see so much talent gathered together, in an unlikely venue, to show the potential of home-grown music. I remind and encourage you all to get out there and support local music in your home-town! Every aspiring musician has a passion for music that starts from within, but in the end, the music they create is meant to be heard. So get out there and hear them! They just might be your next 'favorite band'...

Here's some pics from this event:

Penguin Flight School

Chains Unbroken

Chains Unbroken featuring JP Soule of DEADMANSWAKE

Chains Unbroken featuring Kryssie Ridolfi of DEADMANSWAKE

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Staind (2011)

Post #182
In 2011, Staind released their newest album, and perhaps regarding the decision to make one of their heaviest albums yet, they chose to simply call it 'Staind'. I was plesantly surprised to see that this item was on-hand at my local library during one of my recent visits there. I checked it out, listened to it, and was truly impressed!

Years from now I may look back at 2011 as the year Staind remembered how to be heavy. Choosing to make this album their self-titled release might beg the question if it's hard enough to compare to their early works like Dysfunction ('99) and Break the Cycle ('01). If you'd ask me, I give a resounding 'yes'! The album opens with the chugging bass guitar from Johnny April, establishing a heavy and dark tone. Aaron Lewis and Mike Mushock join after a couple measures with heavy, drop-tuned guitars, and for the old-school Staind fan, a trip down nostalgia lane is already underway...

Aside from the instruments being hard and heavy, Aaron's vocals are likewise very much hardcore. Granted, in true Staind fashion, he does mix it up with melodic singing (as he always has), but the ratio favors the hardcore style to a surprising degree. Newer fans who may be accustomed to Staind's softer tone of their recent works; 14 Shades of Grey ('03), Chapter V ('05), or The Illusion of Progress ('08), may be shocked to hear the band sounding so harsh, but it may be the album some of the older fans have been waiting for!

My favorite songs from Staind's latest:
-Eyes Wide Open
-Not Again (This one might trick you, as it opens with some clean guitar melody, but The heavily distorted power chords bash you in the head mere seconds later. From there the song does slip back into melodic passages periodically, but the choruses are heavy!)
-Failing (Now this is classic Staind! Minor key, dark, despairing mood. Vocals that truly emote frustration and melancholy.)
-Throw It All Away (This song is maybe closer to the 50/50 clean-to-heavy guitar tone that may please those fans waiting for Staind to show their soft side, however the mood is still dark and downing.)
-Paper Wings
-Something To Remind You (The last track actually IS a softer, acoustic number. Perhaps it's here to remind us that, yes, this is still the band that brought us songs like "Epiphany" and "Everything Changes")