Lit – These Are the Days – Album Review

Lit, the Pop punk, power pop, California rock band is back after five years with a new album and a very different sound.  They went from California Rock to California Country and why I have no idea.  They have always been a rock band; although that sound has changed a little over the years as they have grown as writers and musicians, they were still rock at heart.

Now I will admit, if you listen to their lyrics on their old albums, they could be Country songs as the word-play they do in the songs is similar to what you hear in Country music, only better because it was rock & roll.  Their music always made me feel good like I should be partying out on the beach with music blaring and a surf board in my hand (I have never surfed, but I wanted to if there were no sharks and no one watching to laugh).

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Billy Raffoul – 1975 E.P. – Album Review

Before we get into the album review, let me go into the story of how I came across Billy Raffoul.  My wife and I went to see Needtobreathe in concert on August 21st, 2018 (CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW).  Billy was the opening act of a triple bill.  When we arrived he came storming on stage before we got to our seat.  We didn’t mean to arrive then, traffic just sucked.

When I go to a show, I enjoy watching the opening acts and giving them the respect they deserve.  Hey, you never know if they will be the next big thing.  Watching Billy, I felt that he could be just that.  While I was listening to him, I turned to my wife and told her that I loved his voice.  It has this Jeff Buckley raspiness that was incredible.  Imagine my surprise when I read his bio online, it actually mentions that same Buckley feel.  Glad I wasn’t imagining things.

I can’t tell you the songs he sang as I had never heard of him before, but I do know he played Jimi Hendrix’s Fire.  Hell, he is a lefty like Jimi and has that same upside down lefty guitar.  I am sure he knows he could actually buy a left handed guitar!!

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Halestorm – Vicious – Album Review

‘Vicious’ really sums up this album.  Halestorm come at you with full force and don’t let up the entire album.  From the first single “Uncomfortable” I knew this would be great.

In a music scene that is lacking bonafide Rock Stars, Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale fits that bill perfectly.  That voice and the fuck you attitude place her in realm most singers only wish they could achieve.  She isn’t one-dimensional either.  Her style and vocal delivery change up throughout and the album is never boring.

The band’s songs are loud, heavy, rowdy, dark and at times very sexual (“Do Not Disturb” and “Conflicted” in particular). It takes the line of Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll and takes it up a notch. Musically, the band hits it on all cylinders with great guitar solos, nasty bass lines and explosive drumming especially on songs like “Painkiller”, “Black Vultures”, “White Dress” and “Skulls”.  On “The Silence”, Lzzy’s voice is channeling Ann Wilson (one of the greatest voices in rock).

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Dee Snider – ‘For the Love of Metal’ – Album Review

Dee Snider’s follow-up to his last solo album, ‘We Are the Ones’, was completely unexpected as Dee was done with making albums.  That was until he was challenged to do a contemporary Metal record by Jamey Jasta, leader singer of the metal band Hatebreed.

And there were some serious metal musicians on board with this album, just look at the contributors…

  • Jamey Jasta – Hatebreed
  • Howard Jones – Killswitch Engage
  • Mark Morton – Lamb of God
  • Alissa White-Gluz – Arch Enemy
  • Joel Grind – Toxic Holocaust
  • Nick Bellmore – Toxic Holocaust
  • Charlie Bellmore – Kingdom of Sorrow

I like some metal music, but I am not really familiar with any of these bands, so I was a little apprehensive at first.  These are all modern metal artists and I am stuck in the past.  Plus, Dee only contributed vocals.  He did not write any of the songs.  That alone made me nervous, but it is Dee Snider so I gave it a shot.

The first single off the album was “Become the Storm”.  It is a heavy song, but it was a little lame in my opinion.  It was too contrived and sounded like they were trying too hard to sound and be metal.  Thankfully, this might be the worst song on the album.  The rest of the album is pretty fucking great.

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Winger – The Albums Ranked Worst to First

Winger is a band from the late 80’s and came in at the tail end of the hair metal movement.  They saw much ridicule from Beavis & Butthead and I have to admit it was pretty funny.  However, this band might have been poked fun on due to the cheesiness of their debut album (come on you know it was, but it was good too); the band was actually very, very talented.  These guys…Kip Winger, Rob Morgenstein, Reb Beach & Paul Taylor were not hacks (and now John Roth).  They were trained and talented musicians who chose to follow the crowd on their first album until they started really finding who they were as a band.

They were together from 1987 to 1994 and then took a break, a hiatus or whatever you want to call it. They each went their separate ways and joined other bands or did solo albums or did whatever the hell they wanted.  The got back together briefly in 2001-2003, but didn’t release any albums.  Then in 2006, they came back on the scene and have released 3 more albums for a grand total of only 6 albums. Those six are what we will rank here in the post.

The title of the list is Worst to First and for this band that is misleading because nothing is really bad.  In fact, I like all of their albums, i just like some more than others.  I would still recommend them to anyone.  I will shut up now and get to the list.  I hope you enjoy….

THE WORST – ‘Winger IV’ (2006):

Like I said above, THE WORST is actually pretty darn good so it is a little misleading.    This album was their comeback album after a 13 year hiatus between albums.  It is quite a departure from their first three albums from the 80’s & 90’s as it is a very modern rock album.  There were some great songs including “M16”, “Four Leaf Clover” and “Blue Suede Shoes”.

Musicianship wise, it was spot on and there is no arguing their talent.  The reason it is my least favorite of the bunch is the songs themselves.  They lacked memorable choruses and were missing some sort of hook to capture my attention.  For me that was the only thing lacking from the album.  I still listen to it on occasion, but not as much as the others.

#5 – ‘Better Days Comin” (2014):

The band’s most recent release is “Better Days Comin'” and a step up from “IV”, but has a lot of the flaws of that release with a lot of the songs missing that hook; that thing to grab you and pull you in deep.  I said a lot of the songs, but not all.  There was one song in particular I think is awesome and that is “Midnight Driver of a Love Machine”.  It truly rocks and couldn’t be a better way to kick off the album.

That wasn’t the only song worth having.  You have the title track as well as “Rat Race” that will keep your attention.  The overall album is a little uneven, but still got it.  I like it also because it is both modern with a little throwback at times to earlier stuff.  Definitely worth a listen.

#4 – ‘Winger’ (1988):

The debut album that put Kip and the boys on the map.  Slap dab in the middle of the hair band era, Winger played the game like all the others and focused on looks over substance…at least on this one.  If you think I am being mean, I am not.  Songs like “Seventeen” and “Headed for a Heartbreak” are typical of the genre and that isn’t all bad. How 80’s was it, well Beau Hill was the producer and that should tell you all you need to know.

The album itself is hit or miss as the singles were great, but the album had a lot of filler and I did not like the cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”.  This is only at #4 for its nostalgia than anything else.  The sad thing is that the cheesy songs masked the fact that these guys are some of the most talented from that era.

#3 – ‘Karma’ (2009):

‘Karma’ is by far the best of the second half of Winger’s career.  The song is a blend of the band’s earliest albums, but mixed with a modern sound and songs that are actually intelligent and more what the band is capable to do.  The songs are memorable, catchy and they have that hook that gets you moving.

Songs like “Deal with Devil”, “Stone Cold Killer’, “Pull Me Under” and “Come a Little Closer” are what keeps you playing this on repeat.  Their are hints of Kip’s solo sound on a few songs and overall it is spectacular.  When playing these back for this post, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this one.  It has been on rotation for awhile now.

#2 – ‘Winger II’ (1990):

The sophomore slump didn’t happen with this one.  They picked up where they left off, but with a significant difference than the first. They had some real songs on here and actually, I think I like all the songs.  The songs like the original debut were “Can’t Get Enuff”, “Miles Away” and “Under One Condition”.  They did love the ballads back then and Beau Hill was again at the helm.

Where the album shines though are the deep cuts.  They finally had songs that made you think a little like “Rainbow in the Rose” and “In the Day We Will Never See”.  The most bizarre song that even had Kip rapping a little was also one of the highlights for me called “Baptized By Fire”.   All in all, a solid album from beginning to end.

#1 – ‘Pull’ (1993):

Yes, the best album by the band.  If you disagree, I am sorry buy you are wrong…how does that feel because I am not sure (I am kidding!!!…no really how does it feel??) In a time when Hair bands were dead, thanks to the Grunge era, this album went pretty unnoticed which is sad because it is so great.

Why do I like it?  Well, it was the heaviest album up to that time.  It was more modern (for that time period anyway) and it was nothing like the first two.  The whole album completely rocked and it made you even think at time (I tell you these guys are really smart).

The songs that really did it for me were “Blind Revolution Mad”, “Junkyard Dog”, “In for the Kill” and “In My Vein”.  Then there was “Down Incognito” which might be one of my favorites if it wasn’t for “Who’s the One” which probably is my favorite.  These two songs acoustic are great is well, but that is on another album (a Kip solo album).

And there you have it, the Winger albums in order of how I rank them for the worst to the best.  Let me know what you think.  Where did we differ and where did we agree.  What is fun about these list is how differently each album impacts people. What I like, you might not, but we like the same band and that is all that matters really.

I hope you enjoyed.  If you want to listen to any of them or buy them, just click below…

Daughtry – ‘Cage to Rattle’ – Album Review

Chris Daughtry and his band are back with their first album in 5 years.  5 years is a long time to be out of the public eye.  Now before we get in to the review, I have a few questions to ask…

What is the difference between a Garbage Man or Sanitation Worker?

Custodian or Janitor?

Ghost or Spirit?

The answer is there isn’t really any difference.  I mean there is, but it is so slight that people know what you mean with whichever one you say.

Now another question…What is the difference between “Daughtry”, “Leave This Town”, “Break the Spell”, “Baptized” and the new album “Cage to Rattle”?

The answer is the same as above…very little difference.  All the albums sound the same.  I mean they really do.  It is like Chris took the playbook from Nickelback and Bon Jovi. He found a formula for his songs that worked and he has continually regurgitated that same song over and over again with different song titles.

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Ratt – ‘Collage’ – Album Review

After the disappointing sales of their album ‘Detonator’, Ratt seemed to be falling apart.  Robbin Crosby would leave the band due to his substance abuse problem and the dominos would fall from there.  The band went on “hiatus” in 1992 and it felt like the band was done.  Well, the weren’t just year.

In 1997, reunion talks began with the five original members.  However, Robbin Crosby developed HIV due to his substance abuse problem and was in no shape to carry-on.  Juan Croucier would soon afterwards decide he didn’t want to re-join the band.  So that left Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini and Bobby Blotzer and they decided to continue as Ratt and the set out to go on tour.  Before they did that, the decision was made to release a compilation album of B-sides, alternate recordings and even re-work some old Mickey Ratt tunes.

I wasn’t planning on reviewing any compilation albums in my Ratt Review Series, but this one was different as it wasn’t a greatest hits collection.  Being that most of the songs haven’t been on any Ratt album, I decided it was worth getting a review of it’s own.  I will warn you, this is a collection of songs that is strictly for Ratt fans.

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Needtobreathe – Forever On Your Side (Niles City Sound Sessions) E.P. – Album Review

Needtobreathe released their new E.P. titles ‘Forever On Your Side (Niles City Sound Sessions)’ which is a longer name than the album as the album is merely an E.P. featuring only 4 tracks.  The Niles City Sound Sessions is actually a place in Fort Worth, Texas with a trio of producers that call themselves Niles City Sound.  Needtobreathe sat with them for a time and these four songs came from that session.

I have ordered this on a beautiful 10″ Pink Vinyl, but it won’t actually come until September which is a long way from now.  I will have been to the concert supporting this release before I actually have the physical product.  The concert is August 21st out in the blistering heat at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre.  Nothing like a concert, outside in the middle of Summer!!!

The band consists of the following members…

  • Bear Rinehart – vocals
  • Bo Rinehart – guitar, banjo, mandolin
  • Seth Bolt – bass, percussion
  • Josh Lovelace – piano, organ

Since it is only 4 tracks, let us get right to it…

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“Bridges Burn” was is the first track and it opened up with some weird “da-doo, da-doo, doo, doo, doo, doo nonsense (it isn’t that bad once you hear the rest of the song).  I became skeptical real quick. Thankfully that was extremely short-lived. The song then turns into a classic Needtobreathe.  The slow groove along with the piano accompaniment and Bear Rinehart’s vocals pouring out the emotion and allows you to feel everything he is releasing into the song.  They are still incorporating some electronic elements, but not enough to distract.

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Ratt – ‘Detonator’ – Album Review

The year is 1990 and we are getting to the end of the Hair Metal era, but at the time, no one knew that end was coming.  Ratt released their fifth album in August of 1990 and it brings us to the end the long running stream of Platinum albums.  It is also the last Ratt album with the line-up that has been on all 5 of their albums.

  • Stephen Pearcy – vocals
  • Robbin Crosby – lead guitar
  • Warren DeMartini – lead guitar
  • Juan Croucier – bass guitar
  • Bobby Blotzer – drums

After the disappointing reception for ‘Reach for the Sky’ (although it did go Platinum), the band needed to make a change.  That change was not to use Beau Hill as producer on the next album as he had produced all previous albums to much success.  The band (or label) brought in powerhouse songwriter Desmond Child.  You know Desmond…he had great success writing with Kiss, Aerosmith and a few Bon Jovi classics.

And did he ever get involved in the songwriting as he has writing credits on 10 of the 11 tracks on the album.  Not only did Desmond assist with songwriting, he was also the executive producer along with Sir Arthur Payson.  While Ratt did maintain the classic Ratt sound which was a little bluesy and little sleazy, the songs were much more polished and contained more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box.  It definitely leaned to a more Glam rock image than prior albums.

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Les Paul and Mary Ford – ‘The Hit Makers!’ – Album Spotlight

Several months back, I came across this beauty in a collection that I had to have.  It was Les Paul and Mary Ford’s ‘The Hit Makers’ from 1955.  The original album came out in 1953 and was a 10″ record. This one is a 12″ re-release just two short years later and it added four more songs than the original.

Now it is pretty simple as to why I would want an album that is 63 years old.  The album features Les Paul.  This amazing guitarist and guitar builder is known worldwide and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have some of his music in my collection.  And it doesn’t disappoint.  I could go into the history of Les Paul, but will save that for another post some time in the future.

Les Paul and Mary Ford met in the Summer of 1945 and married four years later.  They recorded numerous albums together and ‘The Hit Makers!’ is a greatest hits collection of their music. The album is a mixture of instrumentals highlighting the great guitar playing of Les Paul and songs with Mary Ford singing away.  Shortly after the release, the hits started to dry up a little as the start of something called “Rock & Roll” hit the radio airwaves.

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