Friday, April 25, 2008

Have You Heard The Newz

Today in Music History:

In 1979 The Allan Arkush-directed 'Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,' featuring the Ramones on the soundtrack and in the movie, premieres in Los Angeles.

Some of you may remember that homercat attended a Nazareth concert last summer. Before I talk about The Newz , let's refresh our memories about that show as it will tie in nicely with what I have to say about The Newz. The show begin with the strains of a bagpipe solo played by vocalist Dan McCafferty, the rest of the band then took the stage and proceeded to rock harder than any group I have ever seen. You would think that with the way Dan McCafferty sings, his voice would be nearly wrecked after 40 plus years. Not the case, in fact it was more powerful and better sounding than ever. I saw these guys 25 years ago in their heyday with all the original members and that show paled in comparison to what I witnessed last summer. The hits were there of course but so too were a host of lesser known material from their first four albums, which was an absolute treat to hear. They weren't afraid to show their age, and the original members, Dan McCafferty and Pete Agnew, were either content to hold their ground on stage or stroll around like they were playing in their living rooms. Such is the confidence of rock elder statesmen. "This one's about 100 years old," joked Dan McCafferty, before screeching through Razamanaz. Having attended a score of rock concerts in Victoria, this was the most animated I have seen the crowd get.

So after 40 years of rocking, Nazareth isn't content to sit back on their laurels and keep reissuing greatest hits packages like some bands do. They have just released a new album titled The Newz and the newz is that this could possibly be the best Nazareth album ever released. I know what you're thinking, how could it possibly surpass the holy trinity of Razamanaz, Loud n' Proud and Hair of the Dog that are considered Nazareth's best albums. Well one would have to judge for oneself, but if it isn't better then it's the best album since Hair of the Dog. From the opening track of Goin' Loco and through the course of the album's 13 tracks this is one album that rocks and rocks fucking hard. In typical Nazareth fashion there are a couple ballads sandwiched in there for good measure. Nazareth have managed to create a masterpiece of an album for the year 2008. Every song is absolutely brilliantly crafted and the music is as good as the glory days. With an album full of top notch material it's hard to talk about particular tracks over others, so I'll give some brief highlights. `Day At The Beach' is an anthemic summer classic with a killer chorus, `Liar' is a heavy growling metal moster(about a certain president), `Mean Streets' and `Goin' Loco' have funky thrash metal undertones, `Road Trip' is a blistering rocker which makes one think of AC/DC. The album covers many subjects, such as how our society has gone to the dogs, people who need to get a life instead of being hooked on the internet, relationships, tragedies of war and a certain lying american president. To put it simply buy this album if you're not even a Nazareth fan and this band will become your favourite. This music should be played to the major label record companies and young bands, so that they can actually listen to great 'new' music and hear what rock n roll is supposed to sound like. I shit you not, the album is amazing and will most probably end up in the #1 position in my year end top ten albums of 2008. I for one give a hearty Thank You to these Scottish elder statesmen for such a magnificent new album. Unfortunately it's only available as an import at a higher price but well worth it. Let's hope we don't have to wait another 10 years for the next one. Don't take my word for it, have a gander at these excellent tracks.


Liar by Nazareth
Goin Loco by Nazareth
Buy It

Funny Toon

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Streetheart Revisited

Today in Music History:

In 1989, Nick of Time, Bonnie Raitt's first album for Capitol Records, enters the album chart. Produced by Don Was, it is one of the major success stories of the year, rising to #1 and minor hits in "Have a Heart" and "Nick of Time."

StreetheartStreetheart was a Canadian rock band from Regina, Saskatchewan. In 1975, vocalist Ken Shields, keyboard player Daryl Gutheil and bassist Ken Sinnaeve formed the band Wascana. After being renamed Witness, the group became Streetheart when guitarist Paul Dean and drummer Matt Frenette joined in 1977. Streetheart's heyday as a popular club and concert attraction in Canada was during the late 1970s until the mid-1980s. They originally drew the attention of Atlantic Records and were signed in 1977. Their first LP, Meanwhile Back in Paris, sold 100 000 copies in 1977 and brought the band a Juno Award as most promising group of 1979. Seven LPs followed 1979-83: Under Heaven, Over Hell, Quicksand Shoes. Action - The Best of Streetheart, Drugstore Dancer, Streetheart, Dancing with Danger, and Live after Dark. Record sales earned them six gold albums and four platinum albums; the single 'Under My Thumb' achieved gold single status.

At the peak of their career, Streetheart toured with several Canadian rock bands including Chilliwack, Rush, Harlequin, Max Webster (see Kim Mitchell), Aldo Nova, April Wine and with American bands including Sammy Hagar, Styx, Kansas, and Blue Oyster Cult. Paul Dean and Matt Frenette left Streetheart in 78 and 79 respectively and you may remember them from another little old Canadian band by the name of Loverboy. Streetheart played together until 1984, and Streetheart's most popular single, "Under My Thumb" (1979), was a remake of the song by the Rolling Stones, who were an early Streetheart influence. Keith Richard's himself said that Streetheart's version of the song was the best cover of a Stones song that he'd ever heard. In fact he liked it much better than the Stones version.

Look in Your Eyes by Streetheart
out of print

Trouble by Streetheart
Buy It

Funny Toon

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Nerf Herder

Today in Music History:

In 1993 Elton John’s “Simple Life,” from his 1992 album 'The One,' enters Billboard’s Top Forty. With this charting single, John breaks Elvis Presley’s longstanding record with 24 consecutive years of Top Forty hits.

Nerf Herder
My good friend Pete over at the Planetary Group is great at keeping me informed about new music which is where I got my first gander at Nerf Herder's forthcoming album IV, which is set to hit stores on April 29. Yes Nerf Herder is a band and they are probably most noted for composing the theme tune to the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and for their 1996 single "Van Halen", a parody tribute to the band of the same name, which attracted significant radio airplay and led to their first major record deal.

Now if you're a major geek nerd such as myself, then you already know where they got their name. If you are unsure I shall enlighten you. The band takes their name from a Star Wars reference — a "nerf herder" is a fictional occupation referred to by Princess Leia in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, when she insults Han Solo for arrogantly asserting that she has romantic feelings for him: "Why you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!" Apparently a nerf herder is a lower class outdoorsman who spends his days safeguarding the nerfs on various planets across the universe. They can best be compared to the American cowboy or shepherds of old in their steadfast pursuit of an independent lifestyle. They generally wear old, worn out work clothes and carry simple projectile weapons as well as staves they use to drive obstinate nerfs out of their hiding places. Due to their significant skills in fieldcraft and gunplay, as well as not having the resources to bathe and change their clothes often, the rest of the "civilized" universe looks down upon them.

Enough of that though and more about the band. They describe themselves as a "nerd rock" band, and are known for simplistic modern pop punk-style songs with frequently humorous, juvenile and pop-culture-referencing lyrics. Between 1996 and 2002 they had put a few albums under their belt, but after the final tour dates promoting their album American Cheese the band had disintegrated, without announcing an official split in 2003, and a post by on the band's website some time afterwards detailed how most of the former band members had gone on to get "proper jobs". In late 2005, however, Nerf Herder made a surprise comeback, announcing on their website that they were playing a handful of gigs with the original lineup of Parry Gripp (vocals, guitar), Charlie Dennis (bass) and Steve Sherlock (drums). For Parry's May 7, 2007 review of the day, he announced that the original lineup had finally finished recording their 4th album.

This is an album that homercat is heartily recommending. Chock full of pop culture references, witty and humourous lyrics abound and the music is great. For the last week(at least twice a day) I've been playing this album more than anything else in my library and really enjoying it. Not a klunker to be found here folks. A couple of the songs had me laughing out loud and really to sum it all up this album is stuck in my head. Honestly this is my favorite album so far of 2008. Nerf Herder IV is destined to make my top ten list at the end of the year. My advice pre order it now. Why take my word though, here's a couple samples.

Garage Sale by Nerf Herder
High School Reunion by Nerf Herder
Buy It

Funny Toon