Archive for September, 2010


Philip Sayce

I wrote this short review as a writing sample for a website. I’m posting it because you all need to check out Philip Sayce. Amazing guitarist.

Blues Sensation Philip Sayce @ Molly Malone’s Pub

August 17th 2010

Energetic is the best word to describe Philip Sayce’s live show. From the moment his three-piece band took the stage, an infectious and continuous surge of energy swarmed over the crowd. Akin to the popular Stevie Ray Vaughan sound, Sayce’s blend of power blues, funk, and rock pleased the diverse crowd. Sayce’s powerful rhythm section, bassist Joel Gottschalk and drummer Chris Jago, performed with a high level of musicianship and effortlessly got the crowd cheering for more.

Sayce is a passionate singer with a dynamic and soulful vocal range. His music organically flows with catchy pop-hooks and choruses, with most songs ending up as extended jams. Guitar-wise, Phil is a fantastic lead player. His ability to wail on his worn Fender Stratocaster allowed him to unpretentiously walk off the stage, into the audience, and solo for several minutes, outside of the shine of the stage lights. Despite his short set, Philip Sayce gave a stunning performance that left the audience thirsty for more blues.

Molly Malone’s Irish Pub was an ideal venue for this performance. The stage lies in a separate room from the main bar, allowing patrons to either enjoy the bar atmosphere or watch the show. The pub’s brick walls, adorned with rock and roll memorabilia, create the perfect atmosphere for watching live music. With a beer in hand, anyone who attends Molly Malone’s for a live show is sure to enjoy the pub’s casual aesthetics. With the cheap admission price for the show, Molly Malone’s delivered another outstanding night of live music.

=w=eezer. Not so Raditude.

The following is a letter in response to a message from a great friend, Clayton Snyder (the original message is posted on his blog). Clayton and I became friends during our freshman year in college after jamming out multiple Weezer songs. I’m not talking about a little “Island in the Sun” and “Beverly Hills.” I’m talking BACK catalogue Weezer. We instinctively knew what parts to play, what parts to sing, and we knew every lyric. Needless to say it was a bonding experience. Since that time, our opinions on Weezer have changed. Since I became a music snob, I became less forgiving to their continued venture into the pop realm. Anyway here’s my letter to Clayton trying to reconcile Weezer’s new direction.

Dearest Clay,

It was so much fun sharing that drunken Weezer karaoke at dinner the other nite. Great times.

I know what you’re saying about the direction Weezer has gone in. Of course they are older people who have different lives and goals than they did when they were in their early twenties. I think when bands or artists are in their infant stages as young adults trying to prove themselves, the drive to succeed yields a higher degree of artistry in the music.
So was the case for our beloved Blue and Pinkerton. They will go down as classic albums because nobody really can say “oh Blue album sucks, Green is much better.”
After the hiatus after Pinkerton and the fact that it flopped initially, I think Rivers wanted to play it safe, and Green was a safe pop-mobile but still had good songs. Maladroit had good songs and bad songs, but had much more of a rock vibe. Make Believe, more poppy, but still solid. I listened to Red the summer it came out, but it was the last Weezer record that I was really excited for. It ultimately didn’t stick with me. And I honestly haven’t listened to Raditude in its entirety.

I should probably give the new record another chance. However I think my problem with Weezer now versus Weezer then is that I don’t have the nostalgia tied to albums. I still like Make Believe because it brings me back to a very specific point in time where the sense memories are still vivid. Same with every record before Red.

Bands evolve. Happens with every band, hell even Metallica and Megadeth to an extent. Fans still give Metallica shit for going soft in the nineties when they used to be the epitome of thrash music. I think that’s a danger an artist inevitably has to go through. They could never evolve and please a narrower fan base, or they can use their improved resources and bring their music to more people. I think Weezer is making really smart business decisions. With the state the record industry is in now, its amazing that Weezer, a band that were essentially a cult band, are thriving and are at the peak of their popularity.

I think I just don’t have any attachment to new Weezer. We should continue writing Weezer-related messages. I’d love to hear more stories of how the band complimented your adolescence because it really complimented mine.

Anyway I’m gonna try to come down to Malibu to see you and Christian before you guys leave. Gimme a ring tomorrow and let me know what you guys are doing. Also check your mail, I sent you a clip of me playing “Waves” over a backing track!

Love you man,

Zach

In closing, go out and listen to the new Weezer record, Hurley, and tell me what you think. If you can see them live, do so. They put on an awesome show. Even though I’m not digging their newer stuff, they still are a great band. Later.

“Crazy Horse I Am!”

Album Review

Black Label Society, Order of the Black

Release Date: August 10, 2010

It seems that many musicians are plagued with public doubt when they decide (or need) to get sober. Some believe that the quality of music will suffer once the artist gets clean, as if they will forfeit their original creativity and flare. In the case of newly sober Zakk Wylde, not only can he still shred the daylights out of his arsenal of Gibson guitars, his new album with Black Label Society, Order of the Black, is arguably the most creative and intriguing release of the band’s catalogue. Zakk Wyle has endured many changes since BLS’s last studio effort, 2006’s Shot to Hell. After suffering a blood clot and a scare with pancreatitis, Wylde stopped throwing back beers for his health. He also parted ways with Ozzy Osbourne, focusing all of his attention on BLS. These changes have definitely yielded one hell of an album.

Recorded in Wylde’s home studio, Order of the Black mixes the typical heavy metal brutality that BLS are best known for with shades of hard rock, piano-driven ballads, and infectious vocal melodies. Let’s take a look at the tracks.

The record opens with “Crazy Horse,” a crunchy and energetic song that reminds listeners that Black Label Society haven’t lost an ounce of their heaviness. Wide pinch harmonics, dexterous riffs, and a blistering guitar solo make this song an ideal opener. Sonically, the production is outstanding. The bass and drums are crisp and punchy, welcoming newcomers John DeServio on bass and Evanescence drummer, Will Hunt.

Onward to “Overlord,” one of the album’s strongest and most surprising tracks. A warm, wah guitar riff, reminiscent of Hendrix, introduces the song until the band kicks in with a hard-rocking riff that repeats for the majority of the track. This song is less metal than usual, but it still kicks ass. Wylde allows his soaring voice to lead this track, reminding us that he is also an extremely versatile and capable lead singer. This song could easily find its way into the world of rock radio. A tinge of humor ends the track, with Zakk nasally whining, “she is my overloooooorrrrd!” At first, one would ponder why this strange chant is included on the record, but it shows that Wylde doesn’t take himself too seriously and sends the message that Black Label Society is all about having a great time and celebrating the joy of heavy music.

“Parade of the Dead,” the album’s first single, is pure energy. Infectious melodies and a frantic looseness make his track a standout. “Parade of the Dead” leads into “Darkest Days” the record’s first piano ballad. A solid track with an emotionally melodic guitar solo, “Darkest Days” introduces Order of the Black’s softer side.

“Southern Dissolution” and “Black Sunday,” with an introduction saluting shredders like Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads, return to formula and keep up the pace. Metalheads will soak up the onslaught of Wylde’s palm-muted riffs and flashy pentatonic solos. “Godspeed Hellbound” is the heaviest song on the record with a remarkable performance from Will Hunt on drums.  “War of Heaven” begins with a creepy guitar intro with a chorus effect- very Alice in Chains. Again, a badass song that effortlessly blends hard rock, metal, southern rock and grunge without sounding forced.

“Chupacabra” continues Zakk’s tradition of including short acoustic masturbatory displays of his ability to shred. “Chupacabra” is awfully similar to “Taz,” “Takillya” and “Speedball” from previous records, but it’s all in the name of fun.

The only downside to Order of the Black is the placement of the ballads, which interrupt the flow of the record. Two songs of metal, followed by a ballad, two songs of metal, ballad, repeat. The slower songs aren’t bad by any means, and Wylde is expanding his songwriting abilities. Perhaps these songs would have been better suited for another volume of Hangover Music, and some slower-tempo metal tunes would have been more effective on Order of the Black. “Time Waits for No One” displays Zakk’s admiration of Elton John, and “Darkest Days” ventures into Nickelback and Guns N’ Roses territory. “Shallow Grave” is rather generic and indie-sounding. Well-written pop songs are not quite my cup of Darjeeling, but I imagine that many people will enjoy Zakk’s enthusiasm for piano-driven ballads. These songs might turn off some metal fans, but there is potential for crossover hits that could further expand Zakk Wylde’s society. The album closes with the slow acoustic track, “January.” The string ensemble nods to the Beatles’s “Yesterday.”

Overall, this album is an organic showcase of Black Label Society’s impressive musicianship and energetic spirit. There is something to be enjoyed by everyone here and the majority of these songs will translate well live. Black Label Society will tour this fall with Finnish metallers, Children of Bodom, on the nationwide Bezerkus tour. Check them out!

Order of the Black is a promising return for Black Label Society. Zakk Wylde has proven his staying power, boldly showing that he does not need Ozzy, or booze, to solidify his status as one of the greatest contemporary guitarists on the scene today.

Standout Tracks: “Overlord,” “Southern Dissolution,” “Parade of the Dead,” “Black Sunday”

Overall Rating: 8.5/10