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December 08


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Hot Heels Records
Bullet Rain

A long time ago a very famous writer dude asked, “What’s in a name?” Well, when it comes to music, names mean one hell of a lot.

Some groups have names that become simply iconic: Nobody is going to name their band the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin unless they are complete masochists. Then there are those bands that out of whatever hubris demand weird names (And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Accidental Goat Sodomy), or those annoying dudes who demand some kind of weird spelling or emblems in their name.

Really, if you go around demanding that hard working music writers have to find the submenu in Word that has that goofy Russian letter that looks like two “Rs” spooning back to back, you just might not get reviewed at all…

At the bottom is a big, smelly pile of…bad names — like Pitchshifter — a decent band whose name unfortunately begins to sound like Shitpitcher if you say it too many times.

The Chicago threesome that makes up Hot Heels Records is a damn fine band with a remarkable third album Bullet Rain. Mixing classic Motown blues with Tom Waits-esqe lyrics and sensibility, founder and vocalist Brandon Seyferth has collected some real talent in his band-mates (Marty Grossman, drums, and bassist Aaron Hanna) and put together a solid 12-song CD.

At the very first sight this name seemed misleading, and even after listening to this excellent album that hasn’t changed. That’s unfortunate, because songs like “Dead Man” and the wonderfully eerie and subtle “God, the Ghosts and the Night” deserve to be heard.

You can pick up Bullet Rain at cdbaby.com or listen to some tracks at the site above, although make sure you make “HotHeels” one word or you will go to a completely different site that is not at all about music. Ahem. — Brandon Whitehead (posted 12/12/08)

Delaney Gibson
The Worst Kind of Way

Damn! Just as virtually every musical expectation across this music-dude’s board was sunk lower that a well-digger’s ass after watching the parade of haircuts that was this years’ AMAs, along comes the best freakin’ album of the year.

Ventura-based singer/songwriter Delaney Gibson has a lot to explain about her debut album The Worst Kind of Way. With the powerhouse voice and musical sensibility the likes of an Alanis Morisette or Melissa Etheridge, Gibson tears up every single song here, from the soaring highs of “I’m Alive” to a new personal fav — and one of the best songs of the year — “I Think I have OCD”.

Not only is she a great singer and musician, she’s also apparently free of all the crap many of today’s “artists” are guilty of (one of which is calling themselves “artists”— remember when artists pretty much just did paintings and sculptures?). Every song here rolls into the next — not a damn thing is wasted. You want dark? The title track “Worst Kind of Way” could hold up against any Tom Waits tune. You want a ballad? “Push” is every romantic’s anthem.

Really, this album is just that good, in fact you should just stop reading this and go to here myspace page and start listening (you can also buy a copy there).

Great music isn’t always about haircuts, pretty faces and expensive wardrobes (can you say Jonas Brothers? That’s our future, fellow babies (vapid 15-year olds with pouty faces and too much eyeliner?) — sometimes it’s actually having and nurturing real talent, and Delaney Gibson is an incredible talent, in absolutely the best kind of way. — Brandon Whitehead (posted 12/05/08)

Guns N’ Roses
Chinese Democracy

Well. Let’s start with some of the basics here concerning the seventeen-year-long wait for the musical milestone that is Chinese Democracy.

Axl Rose (the only one of the original members left — at least the only one who anyone cares about — and one-time rock and roll mega-god, has been trying to resurrect his once all-mighty band since the nineties. Rumors and press releases have limped out every few years that that new GN’R album is commin’ out “real soon”. Riiiiiight.

Most people would probably give up after a decade or so, but not Axl: he obviously hasn’t seen a dead horse he doesn’t like. Forget the fact that his ultra-high falsetto is long gone and his best guitarist has gone on to make millions off a video game where people play fake guitars. No, that’s not stopping him (a guess would be that Geffen wouldn’t let him stop either after all the money they’ve dumped into this mess), and by god we now have…this.

You pretty much know what your gonna get from the first title track (somehow “Chinese Democracy” pissed off China, like they don’t have anything else to worry about over there), which like virtually every track here is a lifeless attempt to catch some long-gone magic. A little bit rock, with some sleepy guitar solos and plenty of “wall of sound” layers, everything here sounds the same. It’s like a mediocre Rob Zombie album sung by somebody who makes Rob sound like a good singer.

It’s not that a lot was really expected here, anyway: the point is to just get something out so they can cash in on that juicy tour revenue from all those fans who’ll go see Axl to relive past glories, even if that means sitting through this stuff until he gets to the good song…

By the way, “Street of Dreams” is perhaps the most moronic ballad ever written.

Really, unless you are one of their biggest fans ever, this is staggeringly forgettable music. If you are one of those fans, just wait for that Sprint Center concert, buy an overpriced T-shirt and be done with it. Please. — Brandon Whitehead (posted 12/05/08)

Brandon Whitehead can be contacted at kinginyellow@juno.com.

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