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Archive for the ‘Carlos Santana’ Category

[ATTENDED: June 11, 2019] Baroness

Baroness is, for the most part, the work of John Baizley.  There are others in the band, but there hasn’t really been any consecutive albums with the same lineup.  I first heard of John Baizley on March 10, 2017 when he was brought out as as special guest at a Strand of Oaks concert.

I thought Baizley was great at that show and I really liked his voice.  So I investigated and I discovered the wonder that is the prog metal of Baroness.  Baizley writes beautiful passages and tacks them onto brutally heavy metal.  His voice is a rich baritone and it all works perfectly.  I later found out that all of the art is done by him and that he has crafted some amazing heavy metal covers as well (here’s his art site).

In 2017, Baroness was between albums (their previous one came out in 2015, their new one is coming out in a couple of days).  But I listened to his older records and really liked them a lot.

They have recently toured for this new album, but the two shows they played near me were not ones I wanted to see.  In April they played the Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest which sounded like a terrible thing to go to, quite frankly (even if they were the headliners) –7 bands and all that beer, no thanks.  A few days earlier they were playing Starland Ballroom with Deafheaven.  A double bill I would have liked to see, but I was already seeing Voivod that night.

They announced a tour of the rest of the lands and I was a little bummed.  But then they announced this little acoustic tour to coincide with their new album.  I was planning on getting the album anyway, so to travel to Fords to get that record and to have Baroness play an acoustic show was a no brainer. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: OMAR RODRIGUEZ-LOPEZ-Calibration (is Pushing Luck and Key Too Far) (2008).

Typically a solo album means indulgence. But how can you be more indulgent than Mars Volta? They have fifteen minute songs with twenty-seven sections and operatic vocals and lyrics that are bizarre at best (they’re fantastic, don’t get me wrong, they’re just…out there!). So, if you’re the guitarist in a freak flag waving band, how do you let your freak flag fly on your own?

This solo album actually does prove to be more out there than Mars Volta. Primarily because whereas Volta stays more or less within the realm of their prog metal, this record sets no limits. There’s ambient noodling, there’s chaotic noise, and there’s beautiful extended pieces.

Omar (I’m not on a first name basis, his name is just long) plays a bunch of instruments on the record (he gets help from a bunch of folks throughout as well), but primarily he plays guitar. And I can’t help but think that Omar doesn’t understand how to play the guitar–he knows how to play, and frankly, he’s pretty amazing at it, but I’m not sure he understands it. His melodies are bizarre, he sense of what should come next is totally askew, it’s as if he learned how to play guitar by listening to vinyl records that were a little warped. It’s pretty fantastic.

In one song he sounds like Jimi Hendrix–not so much like a Jimi Hendrix song, but that he achieves the same sonic freakout sound that Jimi achieved in his live recordings–squalling feedback and amazing density. There’s another track where he channels Carlos Santana. (This track features John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on vocals. It is singularly bizarre because it cuts out right in the middle of a line–freaks me out every time!) The next song “Sidewalk Fins” ends with some of the noisiest, loudest, most crushing sounds. It sounds like an amplifier getting smashed by a giant microphone–feedback and thuds–repeated about 4 times before it’s over.

And yet the first few songs are amazingly restrained for Omar. They are short, ambient and, if not a little weird, then certainly quite pretty. But as the album moves along and the songs get longer, his freak flag comes out (see “Lick the Tilting Poppies”). And yet, the disc ends with a beautiful 11 minute instrumental song. it’s beautifully arranged, with intertwining guitar melodies. If there was any doubt about Omar’s skills, this track will knock down all questions. It’s also pretty clear that Omar respects Zappa, if not for his guitar skills, then certainly for his compositions.

This definitely isn’t for everyone–there’s a lot of weirdness afoot–but if you’re looking for something interesting or different, and you’re not afraid of something out there, this is a good disc to check out. Oh, and you don’t need to like or have even heard of Mars Volta to appreciate this record.

[READ: June 27: 2008] The Turtle Moves!

When I saw this book on Amazon, it never occurred to me that it was an “unauthorized” account. It seems that whenever someone or something gets popular someone else tries to make a buck off of it with an “unauthorized” publication. I never know how accurate they are, if they have dirt that the subject doesn’t want out or if “unauthorized” is just written there to sell copy. (more…)

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