Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Gary McGrath “Never Let me Go”

Photo credit: Deborah Buffington

If you were to look up the term “prolific” in the dictionary, don't be surprised if you find a picture of Gary McGrath next to the definition. A Grammy award-winning musician, Gary is constantly busy with one of his many musical endeavors: whether he is producing albums, touring with his own bands or seasoned musicians, or directing the Texas State Men & Boys' Choir, Gary knows how to multi-task, and is always focused on the next project.

With huge names like B.B. King, Bon Jovi, and Devo on his professional résumé; touring with rock veterans such as Peter Frampton and Peter Tork; and collaborating with members of Foreigner, WASP, and the Doobie Brothers (to name only a few), it is no wonder Gary's prolificacy is so high. Working with the best in your given profession is bound to raise your own personal standards, and Gary sets the bar pretty high.

Because of this, his music is quite diverse, and cannot really be lumped into one category; such as can be heard in his latest video, “Never Let me Go”. Musically, it is an acoustic blend of country, folk, and just a bit of pop to make it catchy. It is a sweet, simple love song; but aren't those always the best songs? Sometimes a no-frills approach can be the most striking.

Conceptually, the video is straightforward as well: a beautiful woman rises from sleep as Gary sings about hitting the snooze button. She holds a mug in her hands during the line where she drinks her morning coffee. A breeze blows through her hair as we hear the lyric, “listen to the wind whisper”. Interspersed between these scenes are shots of Gary playing his guitar. Sadly, the only lyric that isn't matched with a corresponding scene is the lyric, “hold me in your arms, and never let me go”. The woman and Gary are both filmed separately and we never see them get together in the entire video! I don't know if that was intentional, but it gives the video a sort of bittersweet feel; such a beautiful song and a lovely sentiment, but the characters aren't seen with each other. The video ends with a recap of the woman's day: always seen looking out the window or gazing outward, as if waiting for that special someone.

For more information on Gary McGrath (or any of his numerous musical projects), visit his official website.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Clark's Secret Identity “Opacity”

Band photo

In the past 6 months since I last wrote about Pennsylvanian prog-rockers Clark's Secret Identity, the band has had many positive changes: their debut full-length album has been released and is getting rave reviews. Also, with the addition of keyboardist Thomas Cichon, the power trio has become a mighty quartet (but you will have to either catch a live show or wait until CSI's next album to hear him!). The band has made their album title a self-fulfilling prophecy, and are on their way to many incredible things.

Already on their second music video, CSI wastes no time getting down to business and making artistic statements with their music videos. Like myself, a couple of the bandmembers come from the era of MTV and remember when the music video was a huge medium to send powerful messages; whether artistic, social, or political. So I like that they make an attempt to tell stories with their music videos.

In the case of the video for “Opacity”, the artistic statement is literal! Directed once again by Theresa Gaffney, the video begins with guitarist/vocalist Shane Anthony and artist Virginia Clawges are standing side-by-side before a bare wall. The view is blurry at first, but as they begin to each draw on the blank canvas, the picture becomes clearer as the painting unfolds. The two work together, each adding their own touches to the other's work, combining vivid colors and subdued shades until it is a cohesive whole, a lovely image of light and dark, created by camaraderie and teamwork. When the work is done, it is a rendition of the CSI album cover, which is praised with a round of applause. Considering that Shane has said on the band's Facebook page that this song speaks of “the fragility of trust”, I think it's cool that the video's concept showed what good things can happen when we put our trust in one another, working together, and seeing it through.

For more information on CSI, or to purchase their new album The Promise of a Wonderful Future, visit their Bandcamp page.

Special thanks to Matthew Bankes, Keith Horning, and Shane Anthony.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Geezër “Geezër Nation”

Photo by Kevin Roberts

I know it hasn't been very long since the last time I reviewed a Geezër video here; but keep in mind that these guys are close to hitting the century mark, so they work a lot faster than those of us with time to spare. The Geezër guys live quite a busy lifestyle: in-between upgrading their pacemakers, getting fitted for dentures, and early-bird specials at the Golden Corral, it's a wonder that Geezër can find the time to play music—let alone film a music video—but they manage.

Always keeping up with what is cool, Geezër has found a loyal fanbase among the youth of today. Adored by hipsters and idolized by tweens, Geezër's band photos are quickly replacing Justin Bieber posters on adolescent bedroom walls across America. Tapping in to this rise in popularity, Geezër has released two lyric videos, and has now put together their very first live-action video for fans to see.

A most fitting choice for their first music video, the aptly-titled “Geezër Nation” has the band gathering their fans of all ages to join in the fun! Frontman Harvey Geezër shows off his dance moves while grooving with a couple of pint-sized Geezër fanatics; proving he can cut a rug with the best of them. Leonard Geezër and Calvin Sizemore show off their awesome guitars (one of them a very bright neon green), along with a female fan singing the chorus word for word.

For more information on Geezër, visit their official blog.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: MindMaze “Sign of Life”

Band photo

After several weeks of showcasing bands from afar, I am content to look a little closer to home for this week's video, and turn a spotlight on good, homegrown talent right here in the U.S.

Hailing from Pennsylvania, MindMaze is a band I have wanted to talk about here for quite some time, but haven't had many chances, considering their last full-length album was over 3 years ago. But that's all changed; MindMaze has a brand-new album out later this week, and will be hitting the road with Arkona and Sirenia shortly thereafter.

Incorporating the best of what progressive metal and melodic rock has to offer, MindMaze is one of the most promising up-and-coming talents on the scene these days. Their new release, Resolve, is a concept album already being called the Operation: Mindcrime of its generation by some critics. That is quite a comparison, but one that the brother-sister team of Jeff and Sarah Teets can live up to. Their musical foundation was built on those classic albums and influential names, so while it seems like a tall order to fill, MindMaze has proven their worth to be named in the same sentences as those greats.

For the band's first video for Resolve, “Sign of Life”, MindMaze chooses to let the music do the talking and not let the visuals overcomplicate things. It is a standard performance video; the band rocks out in an underground basement of some kind, with lightbulbs hanging overhead. Throughout the near-5 minutes of the video, everyone looks like they are having fun just playing music: whether it is the interplay between guitar and bass, or Sarah whipping her magnificent mane of hair, the entire band looks like they are enjoying themselves. And why not? When your music is this awesome, wouldn't you have fun playing it all the time?

For more information on MindMaze, to order their album Resolve, or check for tour dates near you, visit their official website.

Special thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Inner Wound Recordings.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: The Fall of Eve “If Even Angels Fall”

Band photo

For this week's entry, I am a little excited because my musical travels take me to Ayr, Scotland! I have a particular love and appreciation for Scottish culture, though (to my knowledge) I do not believe I can claim any Scottish heritage. From the music of Fish, to the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon—I have a deep respect for the Scots, and it is one of the many places I would love to visit someday.

The Fall of Eve describes themselves as “alternative rock/metal”, but I would also add symphonic/gothic rock or metal to that definition as well. Not much is written about the band on their Facebook page, but it appears they have made an album or two, and now have a brand-new EP to promote.

They also have several music videos on their YouTube channel, but this one that I am reviewing is their most recent. “If Even Angels Fall” fittingly takes place in a church, where we see a woman in white slowly walking down some steps. The song's intro is soothing, like the chimes of a music box. The church looks old and decayed: a dusty piano with missing keys; dried-up, cracked paint peeling off the get the idea. As the band starts to play and picks up the tempo, they are seen at the cathedral altar, with lights strung around the amps reminiscent of Christmas lights, and stained-glass windows in the background. The woman in white is shown breaking apart her rosary beads in a symbolic gesture, as she turns away from the altar.

As the video progresses, she shows more signs of breaking her faith, like tossing a white tunic over a balcony. But she appears to regret her decision, returning back to the altar with her white hooded shawl, hands clasped in prayer. The lyrics of the song conveys the sentiment, “if even angels fall, there's no hope for us at all”. We see the woman in white in the darkened church, holding a lantern as she seeks and finds the music box playing the song's opening notes as we are brought back full circle.

For more information on The Fall of Eve, visit their official Facebook page, or subscribe to their YouTube channel.

Special thanks to Terry Thompson.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Osmo's Cosmos “Runnin' Down a Dream”

Photo courtesy of Nestori Lönngrén

This week marks one year since I started this “Hump Day Hot Ticket” segment, and I must say, it has been a lot of fun. It has given me a chance to find new music from all over the world, and to give a platform to bands I have liked for a long time. Yet in all that time, surprisingly, there is one place my musical travels had yet to take me: Finland.

Ah, Finland...the home of more metal bands per capita than any other country on earth. It is said that Finland boasts hundreds of metal bands, and if you have been following metal music at all past the 20th century, chances are you have at least one Finnish band in your music library. (Even if you have not updated your metal record collection since the 1980s, you may still have one Finnish band in your stack of vinyls: Hanoi Rocks.) Stratovarius, Nightwish, HIM, Battlelore, Children of Bodom (to name only a few!)...Finland has become as known for producing top-notch metal music as they are known for saunas, Moomins, and the Nokia phone (in some respects, maybe even more so).

Considering how many Finnish bands I love, it is honestly a mystery to me why I have not featured a band from Finland in this segment already. (Too many bands from Italy?) It has become apparent to me that I need to make this right!

Over the last few weeks, I have come across a Finnish glam band called Osmo's Cosmos, who have been going around Finland since 1996 performing covers of classic rock covers from the ’70s and ’80s. My first introduction to them was the video I am sharing with you now: their cover of  Tom Petty's “Runnin' Down a Dream”.

The band does a pretty faithful rendition of the song; musically, you almost cannot tell the difference, except that this cover has a bit of a heavier punch to it. Vocalist Tipe Johnson has a similar style and tone to Tom Petty as well; but again, his voice is a little more “metal” (because metal is Finland's specialty, after all!).

The video itself consists of the bandmembers rocking out in a warehouse, in front of a stage setup where a couple other bandmembers are seen on a screen behind them, also playing guitar and changing into their rock star attire. For the solo at the end, the entire band completely rocks their asses off, working up a sweat before turning away towards the darkened warehouse.

For more information on Osmo's Cosmos, visit their official website.

Special thanks to Nestori Lönngrén.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Eivør “Into the Mist”

Photo by Sigga Ella

Time for something a little different this, I am not reviewing a band from Italy! All joking aside, that isn't the only thing that's different. Usually I review music that is more rock or metal, but I have been known to delve into other types of music from time to time.

In almost a year since I started this weekly video review thing, I have found music from all over the globe. This week I have found a gem from the Faroe Islands named Eivør, who has apparently been making music since she was 16 and now has 9 albums to her credit, but whom I have only heard about over the past few months. Better late than never, as the saying goes.

That being said, it isn't hard to figure out why I would like Eivør's music: it has that gothic flair to it, that appeals to the musical side of me that loves female-fronted symphonic metal, and the side of me that grew up on poppy yet dark ’80s music like Depeche Mode and Kate Bush. She has a beautiful yet distinct voice, which I like a lot.

This video I am reviewing, “Into the Mist”, is a remake of an older song done in Eivør's native Faroese language, redone in English. Many comments on the video suggest that the original version is better, but I have not heard it yet, because I want to review this video without any bias towards the other version.

The video begins with Eivør standing on a bare, desolate hill, wearing a black dress with a sheer black cape covering her. Reminds me a little of Madonna's “Frozen” video. We see a hillside covered in mist (but of course, “into the mist”), a dark forest, and a rocky landscape. Eivør is seen again, this time wearing a white dress, her face painted in black like a mask. More footage of the scenery, interspersed with shots of Eivør “levitating” in her black dress; or standing by the water's edge in her white dress, the contrast of the black face paint looking very haunting, fitting the eerie vibe of the song.

For more information on Eivør, or to pre-order her upcoming album Siør, visit her official website.

Special thanks to Lou at Partisan PR.