Silo Halo – Night and The City Album Review

Silo Halo

Intense Magnetism: Night and the City

A song is defined as: musical sounds in agreeable succession or arrangement.

Melody is the combination of pitch and rhythm.

The first time I put on Silo Halo‘s new album Night and the City (Etxe Records, DC) my immediate attraction was to the vocal melody lines and strong songwriting. This Washington, DC-based, self-described “emotive” band displays many strengths throughout the record but I keep finding myself humming the vocal parts for hours after each fresh listen. My only real concern is that at times I wish the vocals were even louder.

In many a rant, I have gone on and on that a big difference between “good” bands and “not good” bands is usually the strength of their singing and song writing (and of course some luck). You can walk into 74,000 different garages, basements, and bedrooms throughout the world and find plenty of great music. 90% of the time you won’t walk away fulfilled by the vocals. Maybe it’s bad P.A. systems or the extroverted nature and nakedness of singing that prevents all of those kids from choosing to become the “lead singer” vs. the drummer or guitar player.

Silo Halo is a band that uses their 3-person multi-instrumentalist /vocal attack like a well oiled pitching staff. Each member taking turns with their unique style and approach throughout the arrangements. The listener is treated to smart, uplifting lyrics and complex musical change up’s while the classic male-to-female vocal back and forth’s keeps the songs interesting and free-flowing.  The verse’s in the song “Out of the Fugue” act as a dark minor chord and noisy detour on the path towards the light filled chorus of arpeggiated major notes and quick picking guitar riffs. Bass player and singer Christin Durham provides contemplative vocal relief from the moody segments of Chris Goett and Greg Svitil’s vocal mannerisms. Danceable beats and distorted synths mesmerize on “You Don’t Dream” and the dynamics of songs like “Wonderful Gift” and “I’m Still Slamming My Head Against a Brick Wall” remind you why great songs will always outshine super glossy production.

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Oh Nevermind, Nothing’s Shocking

Ted, Just Admit It...This Album Is Awesome!

In the annals of rock and roll history there have been numerous groundbreaking and important albums released, way too many to mention in a short list here. “Game changers” from Sgt. Peppers to Enter the 36 Chambers are discussed, disputed, diluted and written about ad nauseam. From talking heads on VH1 (and bloggers such as us) to the employees of record and music stores worldwide, there are oft agreed upon standards of excellence that these records have established. You will be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t at least appreciate the significance of OK Computer or the influence of London Calling.

In the past thirty years or so you can probably list quite a few records that are “instant classics” in various genres (again, won’t even try to start naming them). But over time I am starting to get the feeling that the wrong album is being championed to the forefront of “alternative” rock classics: Nirvana’s Nevermind.  Now before I go on let me please state that I am a fan of the band and the album and in no way, shape, or form am I trying to devalue the record’s greatness. Like many other classic albums, it’s pretty much agreed upon that Nevermind was a game changer. The issue is, I think people are forgetting that perhaps an even greater and more influential album was released a few years earlier than Nevermind. An album that in hindsight seems almost more groundbreaking than it did when it was first released. An album that, unlike the claim by many that Nevermind was the “death of hair metal” actually was the beginning of the end of it. The album I am referring to is Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing’s Shocking.

Let’s go back to the mid-to-late-80’s when anyone on the wrong side of U2 and REM were pretty much reaching the end of their runs in the musical spotlight. Hair metal had taken over “real” metal as the most popular form of hard rock entertainment. While the salad days of hip hop were beginning, the end was near for bands like Poison, Ratt, and Motley Crue. Metallica was the lone wolf in the hard rock realm still holding on to the glory years of 70’s British New Wave of Metal while forging new ground (and a genre) with thrash. But girls didn’t really listen to Metallica. You still made out to power ballads by Warrant and if you were lucky, some slower Van Halen songs.

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Finding the Great American Rock Album


When record stores still existed, they were not just the place to buy music, they were one of the few places to discover new albums (besides friends’ houses and cars). Radio gave us new songs (and sometimes full-album previews at midnight), but you could walk into a record store and end up taking home something you’d never heard before you’d wandered in.

So now you just walked in and we’re playing a great new album called Temple Beautiful by Chuck Prophet.

Who? Longtime music fanatics might know of him from his days in the band Green On Red and his critically acclaimed solo catalog. But he’s far from a household name and, at age 48 and without controversy (or tits), he’s not exactly generating lots of pop-culture buzz. You can read up on him at AllMusic or Wikipedia if you’re so inclined, I won’t waste time rehashing his career.

Temple Beautiful, described by Prophet as “made in San Francisco by San Franciscans, about San Francisco,” comes off as a west-coast version of Lou Reed’s New York album: gritty and full of character and characters. Prophet calls it “an unsentimental (though loving) tour of San Francisco. My effort to tap into the history, the weirdness, the energy and spontaneity that brought me here in the first place.” Thus the comparison’s to Reed’s New York are obvious, but there are other more subtle references. Track 2 of Temple Beautiful is “Castro Halloween,” featuring “men in skirts and heels marching on…” while New York featured “Halloween Parade,” an ode to the impact of AIDS, in that same second song slot. And on the boisterous title track, the shout of “2 guitars, bass, and drums” sounds like a nod to the closing line of Reed’s liner notes for New York: “Can’t beat 2 guitars, bass, drums.”

Certain tracks are reminiscent of the sound and quality of Tom Petty’s finer works, but Prophet probably has more in common with Petty’s right-hand man guitarist Mike Campbell, as there are plenty of riffs and hooks to go along with Prophet’s at-times fierce guitar work. Similarly, instead of sounding like Bruce Springsteen he manages to invoke the garage-band authenticity and pop sensibilities of Bruce’s sidekick Steven Van Zandt. And at times, the album sounds not like Dylan, but more like his son Jakob, most of all on the Wallflowers-type grooves of “Willie Mays Is Up at Bat” and “He Came From So Far Away (Red Man Speaks).”

Prophet, far from the legendary status of Reed, Petty, or Springsteen, comes off as a relative unknown (despite this being his 12th solo album) and it gives this album a likable underdog quality. And while parts of this record have been called “Dylanesque,” and rightfully so, it has more in common with the best albums by other medium-well known underdogs like Graham Parker, John Hiatt, or even Steve Earle, Ray Davies, Warren Zevon, or Paul Westerberg.

Occasional harmonica blasts and tambourines keep the sound organic, but Chuck’s guitar and songwriting are the show here. Catchy and rocking in some spots, brooding and poetic in others, Temple Beautiful is very much an album for album lovers. A cohesive collection of songs greater than the sum of their parts. There’s a natural analog vibe, a timeless sound, and just the right pacing and length to be appreciated as a complete work of art.

Temple Beautiful takes its name from a now-defunct San Francisco rock club, but the sweaty crowds and life-affirming music could be booming out of any little stage in the country. And this out-of-the-blue stunner of an album throws me back to the record stores (also almost all now defunct), where we first found the Great American Novel in musical form and to the dirty bars where we’d later blast them out. While Prophet might not quite be Kerouac with a guitar, it’s nice to know that in 2012, after so many of our beautiful temples are long gone, we can still discover yet another Great American Rock Album.

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CLICK HERE to listen to the whole album streaming free.

Visit Chuck’s official site.

The Grammys: Don’t Believe The Hype

It’s been almost a quarter century since Public Enemy famously asked “Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy?” on their classic album It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back, and we’re still referencing that line every year when we write these reminders that the Grammys are garbage.

Everyone knows it’s an industry-insider’s popularity contest; an annual pat on the backs for the big boys; a reason to roll out a red carpet and sell TV ads. So I won’t waste too much time rehashing and chronicling all the reasons to ignore the Grammys. If you still need evidence, this is a great list of some of the all-time snubs at the Grammys. There are countless great artists who’ve never won or been nominated, but I’ll simply rest my case with this list of just some of the most famous musicians who never took home a statue:

Beach Boys
Bjork
Bob Marley
Chuck Berry
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Curtis Mayfield
Diana Ross
Gram Parsons
Grateful Dead
Janis Joplin
Jimi Hendrix
Led Zeppelin
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Parliament and/or Funkadelic
Nas
Notorious B.I.G.
Queen
Run DMC
Rush
Sam Cooke
Sly and the Family Stone
Talking Heads
The Byrds
The Doors
The Kinks
The Sex Pistols
The Who
Tupac Shakur

Meanwhile, Phil Collins has won 8 times. Oh, and Public Enemy never won one either…

Inside the Super Bowl Point Spread Numbers

This article about Super Bowl spreads seems like a perfectly good excuse to post this picture.

Super Bowl Weekend is finally upon us. Hopefully we can move past trivial story lines and the speculation about Peyton Manning and any other quarterbacks who will have no impact on this game. Actually, wait, scratch that. I’m just getting word that ESPN Insider Extraordinaire and General Everywhere Man Adam Schefter is reporting the NFL has just announced that during the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, Tim Tebow will play Permanent QB for both teams.

Anyway, back to the actual game. The Super Bowl point spread had opened at around Patriots -3.5 and quickly moved down to -3, as it seems a lot of people really like the Giants in the matchup. The over/under opened at about 55.5 and is now down to around 54.

While everyone makes party plans and formulates their picks and best bets for the Super Bowl, I’ve found some more interesting stats and trends to consider:

Something to keep in mind about this stuff: just as with any trends…. at some point they don’t have much bearing on the actual game being played on the field. If the AFC favorites had won and covered 12 times in a row, that really doesn’t mean anything if Tom Brady throws two pick-6’s and Victor Cruz takes a 5-yard slant to the house. Just cuz the under has hit 4 out of the last 5 years, doesn’t mean that offenses led by Brady and Eli wont still go back and forth for a 31-27 game that goes over. I think people tend to get lost in trends: “oh, the last 4 times the Super Bowl featured a rematch with an AFC favorite of under 7 points with a democratic administration in the White House in an even-numbered year, the underdog won outright!!”

Huh?

I understand the idea of knowing your history, but it’s also wise to consider the fact that it’s just that: history. That said, let’s go inside the numbers of Super Bowl point spread history and results:

  • The spread has been a factor only 7 times, twice pushing and 5 times the favorite didn’t cover. The other 38 games, whether the underdog or favorite won, the spread did not factor into the game.
  • Five out of the last 7 Super Bowls have stayed UNDER the total.
  • Six out of the last 7 Super Bowls has totaled 50 or fewer points including two games that produced just 31 total points.
  • The favored team has won 15 of the last 21 Super Bowls, and 9 of the last 12.
  • The NFC holds a 24-21 straight up edge over the AFC.