For a couple of years, some of my friends and I have been sharing music with one another. We’re supposed to review/rate whatever’s shared with us, but that doesn’t always happen.
The Winery Dogs – Hot Streak (2015)
Spencer shared another blues rock band he discovered, but this time it’s a bit harder. And it features Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater on drums.
Oblivion was a great way to open the album, and I think because of that track (and Portnoy’s presence), I expected more hard prog rock throughout the album. What I got was fine. It was like AC/DC with a different singer (who sounded kind of like Van Halen‘s second singer, Sammy Hagar, to me). And maybe it made me better appreciate the more technical stuff, like How Long. War Machine kind of fueled that desire a little too. And reminded me (instrumentally) of Yes. Spiral and The Lamb (although less so than Spiral) both reminded me (again, instrumentally) of Muse. It’s not often that a bass player really impresses me, but Billy Sheehan is going on my very short list of greats.
I’m not sure how to feel about Fire. The change in feel helped break up the album, and the Spanish guitar was nice, but I feel like they took the slow jam a little too far. It reminded me of both the Eagles and U2, but I would have been okay with just an ’80s glam metal ballad. Maybe. It’s easy to say that, but hearing them pull it off might be totally different. Think it Over was almost Stevie Wonder-esque, and I liked that more than Fire.
I also listened to the Japanese bonus track, Solid Ground, which is an acoustic rocker with some good harmony. It was one of the best songs “on the album” and definitely worth looking up. Maybe it was because of the acoustic nature, but again it made me think of the Eagles, but I liked Solid Ground better than Fire. 3.39/5
Sunn O))) – Kannon (2015)
Despite the extra characters, this band’s name is pronounced “sun.” This album only has three tracks, simply titled Kannon 1, Kannon 2 and Kannon 3. I had never heard of drone metal before, so I really had no expectations. When Chris shared this album, he just said, “You guys will hate this but I love it. I’ll be surprised if you even get through a few minutes of it. I think that’s all I’ll say.”
I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. It just didn’t develop into anything. The second song had some interesting chant-like vocals, which were an improvement on the kinda creepy vocalizations on the first track. But it all fit the mood. This album turned into background music pretty quick, but I never noticed the long track lengths. I could image these tracks playing in the background of some dark dungeon-crawling video game and fitting the atmosphere perfectly. All of that is to say that from what I understand of Drone Metal, I think they perfectly achieved what I would guess their goals to be.
After my first listen through, I looked these songs up on YouTube, where you can double the play-back speed. And that helped them not be so boring. 3/5
Here’s what my friends had to say:
“I didn’t hate it. Seeing how you like Sigur Ros its no surprise you are also into some drone guitar stuff like this. The 2nd track was also my favorite, largely due to the vocal change. Without the vocals I could really get into this. I find the heavy guitar stuff intriguing and quite more interesting than electronic ambient music. With the creepy vocals though, its staying on the won’t-be-looking-it-up list.” 3.7/5 – Spencer
Mighty Diamonds – Right Time (1976)
A long, long time ago, Chris shared this documentary about video game music with me. It focuses mostly on video game music’s influence on electronic artists, but it has influenced a whole generation of musicians – like me. I already knew keyboardist Koji Kondo was heavily influenced by prog bands like Deep Purple (which feels very Zelda-esque); Emerson, Lake and Palmer (which has a proto-Metroid lick in it); Friendship (I don’t even need to say it, do I?); and King Crimson, but it’s nice to know where some of these other guys were coming from. Listening to Mario, it’s obvious that a lot of Nintendo (especially bass player Hip Tanaka)’s music was influenced by reggae. I had to look up a couple of bands that were mentioned, but one of them I didn’t was Mighty Diamonds.
Their drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare were foundational in popularizing the rhythm that influenced other reggae artists, video game composers and even Stewart Copeland, drummer of The Police. The album as a whole is fine (between a 3 and a 4 for me) and it’s kind of a different reason to share an album, but I just felt like I had to share an iconic rhythm section.
Here’s what my friends had to say:
“This was pretty average. The rhythm section was solid. Gotta give them that, but its mostly just straight reggae, and even I tire of the same rhythm through the whole album.” 3/5 – Spencer
In the meantime, tell me what you thought of Might Diamonds, Sunn O))) or The Winery Dogs down in the comments section.