Tag Archives: metal

Album Review: Diarrhea Planet – “i’m rich beyond your wildest dreams.”

Diarrhea Planet - "i'm rich beyond your wildest dreams."
Diarrhea Planet – “i’m rich beyond your wildest dreams.”

Not many bands (I actually can’t think of any off the top of my head) would be able to make use of 4 guitars and have it all make sense. Diarrhea Planet, on the other hand, are bringing shredding back to rock. And right from the opening of the album they aren’t afraid to let you know that they are not messing around.

“Lite Dream” moves from quadruple guitar solo, to straight up punk rock right before they march right into Iron Maiden territory. It makes sense to get as much use out of everything on stage as possible, so in order to do that there is a lot of stretching out, doubled guitars, solos, layered solos etc.

You may have heard about these guys before if you are a fan of Titus Andronicus (and why wouldn’t you be?) whom Diarrhea Planet opened for last year when Titus was touring for “Local Business.” I remember Patrick Stickles tweeting over and over again about how these guys would knock it out of the park night after night, but there was no way for many of us to know what he was talking about because they were pretty much just getting started. Now it turns out that Stickles was right. He was very right. The New York Times even agrees, as does NPR, who featured them on their All Songs Considered podcast.

Long story short, these guys are blowing up and you need to get in on the ground floor, it’s worth it. For a full album of guitar assault that knows how to make use of its resources, while at the same time managing to control songs to the point where they don’t go too far. Apparently it is possible to have a band like this with a minimum amount of wankery going on.

This live clip of “Kids” says it all. It starts out delicately enough, but it’s really only holding back before all hell breaks loose.

They are currently out on a seemingly never ending and constantly expanding tour (I’m actually leaving my apartment right now to see them here in Eugene) with support from NYC’s So So Glos (founders of Shea Stadium) and putting on a fantastic, amazingly energetic live show. More on that later.

The album, “i’m rich beyond your wildest dreams.” is pure rock and roll. I’m already sick of various sites saying that they are “equal parts Weezer and Whitesnake” as NPR does, or something similar that evokes the name of some crappy corporate rock hair metal band from the 80s. Whitesnake has nothing to do with this music. Whitesnake were a product of money-grubbing, coke-addled music execs in the 1980s. Whitesnake, in short, sucks. They sucked then and they suck now. There is no point in listening to them at all. But I digress.

There is a purity of the song writing here that takes more from the punk/DIY aesthetic than it does from the hair metal aesthetic. Sure, on the surface there are guitar solos all over the place, there’s finger-tapping, there’s palm-muted eighth notes on the lowest string (tuned to D or even C sometimes) but those things don’t add up to “hair metal.”

Diarrhea Planet – “Hammer Of The Gods”

A song like “Separations” has a lot more to do with catchy hooks and punk attitude than anything else. Let’s not discount the fact that these guys can play. There is not a single second of insincerity on this album. “Hammer of the Gods” is more punk than it is metal. The entire album walks the line in that way, which places it firmly more in the Misfits camp than it does with Whitesnake. There is a lot more going on than what it sounds like after listening to one guitar solo doubled in thirds. Everything on the album is done because it makes sense to the song, everything serves the song. We know this because not every track on the album is structured in exactly the same way. Some have verses and choruses, while others have extended intros followed by a verse and an extended outro (see “Ugliest Son”). At no point does anything sound out of place or arbitrary due to trying to jam ideas into a form that doesn’t make sense for that particular song. The same can be said for the album as a whole; there aren’t any songs in the sequencing that are placed there because, say, they needed an upbeat 1st single and then a slow song for a 2nd single (that a band like, say, Whitesnake would do. And maybe that is one of the reasons that they are pointless to listen to, Whitesnake I mean. They are so of the time. Everything about music like that and albums like theirs is that they are very “of the time.” Taken out of context, or listened to in 2013, those albums can’t connect with us anymore because they just don’t make sense anymore).

Diarrhea Planet is currently on tour practically non-stop, criss-crossing the country until the middle of December and it seems like they are adding dates into all the free time they can. If you live anywhere between Sand Diego and Portland, Maine it’s only a matter of time before they are in a town near you. Get out there and see them, say hi, and buy the album.  It’s currently available on CD and Gold Vinyl (with download code) from Infinity Cat.


Jerseyband CD release show

I’ve written about these guys before when they were trying to raise funds to produce a new release. In that time they finished recording and pressing “Forever Hammer” a 4 song, 18 minute, EP of finely crafted jazz/metal/prog/fusion….well, they simply refer to it as “lungcore” and you should too.

In celebration of this latest release the band will be playing a show on August 16 at the Littlefield in Brooklyn, NY. Tickets are currently on sale and at $10 – $12 they are a steal! Also on the bill is Gato Loco and the Hirschfeld/Nazary Duo.

I’ve had the EP for a few months now, being that I dutifully contributed to the Kickstarter project and it’s great to hear them continuing to evolve their sound. The level of musicianship is way beyond anything else out there, and there really is no band that even comes close to playing anything resembling Jerseyband’s type of music. They are a genre unto themselves.

Unfortunately it looks like their web presence hasn’t been updated much since the release of their last full-length, the phenomenal “Beast-Wedding” from 2009, that can be heard in its entirety on their Bandcamp page. Their past releases “Little Bag of Feet for Shoes” and the live album “Lungpunch Fantasy” can also be heard on the site too.

If you are in NYC, go to this show, you’ll be sorry if you don’t.

Jerseyband: web | Facebook | Bandcamp | Myspace | Youtube | CD Baby | Twitter

Album review: X-Ray Press "Uvb – 76"

Prog-rock has been around for quite a long time now. Though its roots can be traced back to jazz fusion many bands eschew those undertones in search of a new sound that still retains the complexities in the music but not so much the jazzer attitude that can come off as overly pretentious. Nobody wants to end up sounding like Yes, or (it pains me to type this…) Emerson, Lake & Palmer after all. X-Ray Press has created one of the more complex albums that holds a firm footing in the prog world, but is still so much more.

From the opening of the first track, “Everybody, This Is Everyone (And Nobody Cares)”, the guitar tone reminds me of Shellac. The aggressiveness of the music also matches Shellac’s own ethos in some ways, and though they can both be considered to be creating “math-rock” (a genre that side-steps the aforementioned jazz influences found in progressive rock but still holds to the same “complexity for complexity’s sake” constantly shifting time signatures) Shellac would never consider creating an album with songs that are linked thematically forming a deeply woven story about living in the modern age. X-Ray Press’s angle is more similar to that of The Dillinger Escape Plan, with more than just a nod to their metal leanings, but with not as much of the dialed up anger as Dillinger, and cleaned up a bit. Though there is not an overt jazz sound there are glimpses of its interesting harmonies and song structure that can sound reminiscent of “Starless and Bible Black” era King Crimson as in tracks like “Chord and Mumble” and “Holy Ghost, USA“. But then again, doesn’t every prog band have some element or other that points back to King Crimson in some way? There are also strains that sound like Pink Mountain’s avant–garde improvisations in “Bad Beard (God Under Oath).

Hopefully this will give you an idea of the truly rich palette these guys are working from. Of course, it’s little bits here and there, nothing overtly derivative or “ripped-off” from anyone. Strongly influenced yes, but X-Ray Press really does seem to be doing something different. With “Uvb-76” they have taken a rather complex structured album and, where most bands would leave the tracks at 20+ minutes in length, X-Ray Press is carving out little gems that are much more easily grasped because of their forgiving song length of 2 to 5 minutes. This makes for a prog album that is in your face and quite possibly “radio-friendly”. A significant amount of punch is packed into the 2 minutes of “Cubicle Racist” and “Thin Mint, FSA“.

X-Ray Press - "Uvb -76"

The concept of the album is primarily one of anger and frustration directed toward the world at large which eventually arrives at acceptance through discovering some way in which one can transcend, on ones own, the problems that are continually faced through creative action of some sort. In short: making lemonade from the lemons that life seems to perpetually dish out. From being just another automaton to making something out of ones life and moving on. The album is divided into 2 acts of sorts: I. Thought and II. Action. The first of these is divided up into 2 “scenes” while the 2nd is divided into 3. These “acts” are broken up by haunting, short piano interludes that appear between scenes. It sounds to me like a prepared piano (a concept first invented and developed by the American 20th Century avant-garde composer John Cage) where the strings are somehow stopped or otherwise prevented from resonating.

I told you it was a heady concept…

As mentioned before, their math/prog leanings means that the time signatures do not sit still for a second, switching all over the place before one can even begin to sort out where the downbeat is. As for the substance of the songs though, and there is a lot of substance that goes far beyond complex time signature changes and polymeter, the band has a way of working elements into each song that find them interlocking into a groove for a short time before pulling themselves apart again to go their own separate ways. The inclusion of a Rhodes piano to the ensemble adds to the hint of jazz influence as well as melding well with the guitar tone. It has the ability to sound like the guitar feeding back, but also adds to the bright high end of the guitar, often doubling it though you wouldn’t know until they choose to go their separate ways.

There is a lot to this album, but knowing the kind of fanaticism and dedication to detail that fans of this type of music are I’m sure that very little of it will be lost. If this is a sign of music to come in 2011 then we’d all better hold on because it is going to be an intense ride.

And check it out! You can stream the entire album at the band’s own bandcamp site!

Or, if you are in a hurry, I have uploaded two tracks below.

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/XRayPress-07_Cubicle_Racist.mp3|titles=XRayPress-Cubicle Racist] [audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/XRayPress-12_Holy_Ghost_USA.mp3|titles=XRayPress-Holy Ghost USA]