10 April 2015

Van Halen releases live album, comes under fire

For a band that has been incredibly media weary for the past decade and a half, Van Halen spent some major time in the spotlight last week.

Monday and Tuesday saw them on Jimmy Kimmel Live! for a series of live performances. Wednesday, they appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to do a couple songs, and guitarist Eddie Van Halen gave a rare interview to The Washington Times.

All of it has been to promote a new record, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, the first live album with original frontman David Lee Roth, and a 39-date summer tour. That’s a call for rejoicing, right?

Not exactly.

Fans have been overly critical of a number of things, with the main contention directed at Roth and his refusal or inability sing the songs in the right key, properly or at all instead of talking his way through them. Incredulously, for a band that spent much of its career having enough drama to rival any daytime soap opera, some are calling on them to get a new singer — a fourth — or bring back original Roth replacement, Sammy Hagar, for a third time.

Van Halen on tour in 2013

Speaking of Hagar, even he’s gotten into the act, speaking to the Las Vegas Review Journal this week and saying about the live album, “Every time they do something, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, can these guys do anything worse to their reputation and to the level of the music of the band?’ They’ve got some pretty rough vocals. Standing back, I’m just going, ‘What the (expletive) are these guys thinking?’”

Now, it’s no secret The Chronicles of MC is a fan of Van Halen, finding something positive in all incarnations. Even the Gary Cherone period had some great live shows. But I’m no apologist, and can call things out when they are just downright bad. Like those three new songs done with Hagar for the two-disc best of collection in 2004? Atrocious, especially lyrically. The Cherone album prior was fairly terrible, too.

But since Eddie and his brother, drummer Alex, reunited with Roth in 2007 and dismissed bassist Michael Anthony in favor of Eddie’s then-teenage son, Wolfgang, they’ve been under a microscope of negativity. First, it was because there was no new material to go with the reunion.  

A Different Kind of Truth, the first VH album with Roth since 1984, came out in 2012, and despite it being musically on par with the classic six-pack of the Diamond Dave-era, there was massive discontent because much of the material was inspired by the band’s earlier demos. No matter that nearly every other rock outfit of note, including Aerosmith and AC/DC, has done the same thing in recent years, for some reason it was blasphemy that Van Halen did it.

Less than two years after the tour in support of the new album ended, fans were back to complaining — loudly — via message boards and social media about the lack of news, material and/or live dates coming from the VH camp.

When the two-disc Tokyo Dome Live release was announced, it became, “Why isn’t it a record of new material?” When Eddie told The Washington Times the group was initially going to release long-sought-after demos from the Pasadena, Calif., quartet’s early days, but decided not to because of the quality, there was uproar. When the Kimmel appearance was announced, it was, “Why not Fallon?” And the reaction to going on a daytime show geared toward middle-age women and hosted by a lesbian? It wasn’t pretty at all.

Granted, Roth didn’t help matters when, at the outset of the Kimmel performance, he split his nose open spinning a baton and had to halt the show — which had shutdown Hollywood Boulevard — so that he could get it quickly bandaged up. Things went much smoother on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but at that point, the busted beak was all anyone could talk about.

As for the live album itself, yes, there are some tracks where Roth’s voice is less than spot-on and he does riff a lot instead of singing. But people seem to have a selective memory about the frontman’s live reputation — he’s never been a good singer. His shows were always about the performance, the verbal banter with the audience, the “Air Dave” toe-touching splits off the drum riser. At 60 years old, the latter is not happening anymore, so maybe this is the first time folks are noticing he’s never had a great voice in the first place.

The flipside is that the band, most notably Eddie, is playing phenomenally. The guitarist hasn’t been this spot-on since the 1995 to support the final album with Hagar, Balance. Check out his blazing solo “Eruption” from the Kimmel show and you’ll see how ridiculously on fire he is these days.

Hopefully, that carries over onto the tour, which kicks off July 5 and goes through October, and it gives the so-called “fans” a little less to complain about.

Article originally appeared in the April 10 edition of The Daily Times

26 November 2014

Things to be thankful for in Rock

It’s important to remember that the holiday season isn’t just about getting the best deals on Black Friday, watching the football games on Turkey Day or battling the mall crowds to get the kids on Santa’s lap. No, it’s a time to be thankful, and with Thanksgiving tomorrow, The Chronicles of MC thought this would be the perfect time to give thanks to all the good things on the current musical landscape.

Here then are 10 things we should all be thankful for:

Rock is not dead 
Despite Gene Simmons’ claims to the contrary, rock and roll is not dead. Look no further than the latest Foo Fighters, The War on Drugs and Jack White for examples just this year that the genre is still thriving, with even more excitement in the pipeline. Speaking of which…

There’s an upcoming AC/DC album
In just over one week, the thunder from Down Under returns with their first album in six years, ‘Rock or Bust.’ The title track was officially released this week, and it’s a fist-pumping barnburner. Sure, it’s a supreme bummer that band co-founder Malcolm Young is permanently on the shelf with dementia, and who knows what the heck the drummer situation will be by the time the tour begins early next year, but, as the “Angus Bucks” which dropped from the rafters in the “Moneytalks” video read, “In Rock We Trust.”

U2 to tour

U2 are planning a tour
The fallout from releasing their latest album, ‘Songs of Innocence,’ by depositing it into people’s iTunes account continues, and the record is a mixed bag at best, but the bigger picture remains that a tour is in the pipeline. The last time the Irish rockers came around, in 2011, the setlists were not only incredibly solid, but there were rarities abound like “40,” “Out of Control” and “One Tree Hill.”

Muse look to “get heavy”
Following a spate of years where they toyed with rock operatic albums, not to mention being the unfortunate soundtrack to the ‘Twilight’ series, Muse has promised to get back to their roots, which means that tweens who hadn’t heard of the band before reading trashy stories about vampire love are in for a rude awakening. The first three records from the UK trio are benchmarks, and if they even get close to that sound it will be a glorious day for fans of hard rock.

Justin Bieber is 20
The “Beebs” is no longer a teenager, which means that kids are seconds away from ignoring him and moving on to something else. His petulant antics, which are becoming more annoying by the day, may have once been endearing to his fanbase but are less and less “cute,” which will hasten his shelf life.

The Who are 50
While it’s really just singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend, it’s still pretty cool that the old geezers are still bringing “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Join Together” to arenas after five decades. They even managed a new song, “Be Lucky,” that isn’t bad at all to help celebrate the anniversary.

Metallica are back in the studio
While many may have given up on Metallica, it’s hard to argue that the 2008 release ‘Death Magnetic’ wasn’t a step back in the right direction. The guys are back in the studio this fall, with a record that is almost completely written, looking for a release sometime toward the middle of next year.

Robert Plant said “No.”
The people that continue to clamor for a Led Zeppelin reunion tour need to realize that Robert Plant is probably the smartest man in the room when it comes down to refusing to roll back the clock. Even those who think the one-off concert in 2007 was brilliant, this critic among them, have to face up to the fact that that was seven years ago next month. Let the original monsters of rock go out on a high point.

Black Sabbath will do one more
One band that isn’t shutting the door on a storied career is Black Sabbath. The outfit’s first full-length with Ozzy Osbourne at the mic, last year’s ’13,’ was a worldwide smash, and has led to the members saying that they will do one more album before calling it a day. Here’s hoping that original drummer Bill Ward can get onboard with it.

Reunions Happen
No matter what members of a band in particular might say at any given time, the reality is that at some point, barring death – an even sometimes in spite of it – they will eventually get back together 90 percent of the time. The Who, Rage Against the Machine, Cream, Soundgarden, the list goes on and on of acts who called it a day only to either tour again or make new music or both. The Kinks have a reunion on the horizon. Oasis is a sure bet. The original Guns ‘N Roses lineup? One can hope. Stranger things have happened.

This article originally appeared in the November 23 edition of The Daily Times

14 November 2014

Woes continue for AC/DC as new album release approaches

What an incredibly strange and unfortunate time it has been in the world of AC/DC.

First it was announced co-founding rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young wouldn’t be taking part in the band’s latest album and tour due to health issues, later confirmed to be dementia so severe that he was under full-time care in a nursing home.

Then there was drummer Phil Rudd’s absence from a video and photo shoot the group attributed to a family emergency, despite reports he too was in ill health.

Last week, Rudd was arrested in New Zealand on charges of “attempting to procure a murder” in hiring someone to kill two men. He was also in possession of cannabis and methamphetamine at the time. while the attempted murder charges have been dropped, he still faces seven years in regards to making threats to kill someone.

AC/DC 2014...where's the drummer?

A new album from the band, Rock or Bust, comes out Dec. 2. The video for the first single, “Play Ball,” premiered this week. In it, guitarist Angus Young and singer Brian Johnson are the primary focus, with longtime bassist Cliff Williams and Stevie Young, nephew of Angus and Malcolm, sitting in for the latter on rhythm guitar are relegated to the back ground. Hardly seen at all and certainly not up close is Bob Richards who was, at the time, said to be sitting in temporarily for Rudd.

Upon news of Rudd’s arrest, AC/DC released a terse statement which read, “We’ve only become aware of Phil’s arrest as the news was breaking. We have no further comment. Phil’s absence will not affect the release of our new album Rock or Bust and upcoming tour next year.”

The question of course, is who will be sitting in for Rudd?

Many fans are looking to past replacements for Rudd when he fired from the band in 1983 and didn’t return for a decade. The first to sit in for him was Simon Wright on two studio albums and a soundtrack compilation. Wright is currently the drummer for...

Continue reading this article at its original location in The Daily Times

10 November 2014

The Voltage Factory Playlist Recap for 05 NOV 14

The Voltage Factory broadcasted from Iceland Airwaves last Wednesday, with two hours of indie, punk, rock and metal. We opened as always with the Top 5 Trending #VoltFac Tracks, the Classic Album Spotlight was Megadeth's Youthanasia, which came out 20 years ago last week, there was a doubleshot of Smashing Pumpkins and the Killer Cover had Ministry covering the Ram Jam's driving "Black Betty."

We also spun some tracks from a few artists performing at Airwaves '14 like Iceland's Leaves, Manchester's PINS and fest closer The Flaming Lips. Alice in Chains new single, "Phantom Limb" made its #VoltFac debut and we paid tribute to the late Wayne Static of Static-X who passed away last weekend.

The full set is below, and if you missed it, the show will repeat tonight at 10:00pm EST. Stream it via Vanyaland or through the TuneIn app.

This Wednesday The Voltage Factory is still in Reykjavík, Iceland where we'll have some recap music from Airwaves along with all sorts of other fun stuff. Check it out.

The Voltage Factory: 05 NOV 14 [VOLTFAC-003]


01. The Flaming Lips - "Fight Test"
02. Leaves - "Catch"
03. Failure - "Sergeant Politeness"                                >Top 5 Trending #VoltFac Tracks
04. Muse - "Plug-In Baby"
05. Static-X - "Bled For Days"
06. The Subways - "Rock & Roll Queen"
07. Verra Cuz - "Soul Collides"
08. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - "Berlin"
09. Joy Division - "Interzone"
10. The (International) Noise Conspiracy - "Smash It Up"
11. Therapy? - "Screamager"
12. Rollins Band - "Are You Ready?"
13. Megadeth - "Train of Consequences" [Classic Album Spotlight]
14. Foo Fighters - "White Limo"
15. Alice in Chains - "Phantom Limb"


01. The Rapture - "Out of the Races"
02. Iggy & The Stooges - "Shake Appeal"
03. Death From Above 1979 - "Going Steady"
04. Megadeth - "Blood of Heroes" [Classic Album Spotlight]
05. Wolf Parade - "Shine a Light"
06. Zack de la Rocha [Feat. DJ Shadow] - "March of Death"
07. Quarashi - "Stick 'Em Up"
08. Smashing Pumpkins - "Zero"
09. Smashing Pumpkins - "Tristessa"
10. PINS - "Get With Me"
11. Ministry - "Black Betty" [Killer Cover]
12. Megadeth - "A Tout Le Monde" [Classic Album Spotlight]
13. Temple of the Dog - "Pushin' Forward Back"
14. Deftones - "Change (In the House of Flies)"

03 November 2014

The Voltage Factory Playlist Recap for 29 OCT 14

The Voltage Factory celebrated a special Halloween Edition last Wednesday, with two hours of punk, rock and metal and a scary theme. We opened as always with the Top 5 Trending #VoltFac Tracks, the Classic Album Spotlight was Ozzy Osbourne's No Rest for the Wicked, there was a doubleshot of Danzig and the Killer Cover had AFI covering the Misfits' holiday appropriate "Halloween."

We also debuted the new Marilyn Manson track, "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge" and paid tribute to late Cream bassist and singer Jack Bruce.

If you missed it, the show will repeat tonight at 10:00pm EST. Stream it via Vanyaland or through the TuneIn app.

This Wednesday The Voltage Factory will be going international, broadcasting from the chilly shores of Reykjavík, Iceland where we'll be based for the next few weeks. Check it out - it's sure to be a blast.

The Voltage Factory: 29 OCT 14 [VOLTFAC-002]


01. Cream - "Born Under a Bad Sign"
02. Type O Negative - "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)"
03. Bloody Hammers - "Fear No Evil"                                >Top 5 Trending #VoltFac Tracks
04. Alice Cooper - "Teenage Frankenstein"
05. Marilyn Manson - "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge"
06. The Warlocks - "Shake the Dope Out"
07. Roky Erickson - "I Walked with a Zombie"
08. Misfits - "Skulls"
09. Dio - "Rainbow in the Dark"
10. Bauhaus - "Dark Entries"
11. Joy Division - "Dead Souls"
12. Ozzy Osbourne - "Devil's Daughter" [Classic Album Spotlight]
13. AC/DC - "Evil Walks"
14. Judas Priest - "Devil's Child"


01. Ghost - "Body and Blood"
02. Samhain - "Horror Biz"
03. Slayer - "South of Heaven"
04. Ozzy Osbourne - "Miracle Man" [Classic Album Spotlight]
05. Rob Zombie - "American Witch"
06. Rammstein - "Du Hast"
07. Anthrax - "What Doesn't Die"
08. Danzig - "Snakes of Christ"
09. Danzig - "1,000 Devils Reign"
10. Kiss - "Unholy"
11. AFI - "Halloween" [Killer Cover]
12. Sex Pistols - "Bodies"
13. Ozzy Osbourne - "Crazy Babies" [Classic Album Spotlight]
14. Ramones - "Pet Sematary"
15. Depeche Mode - "Black Celebration"

26 October 2014

The Voltage Factory Playlist Recap for 22 OCT 14

The Voltage Factory kicked off last Wednesday in fantastic fashion, with two hours of punk, rock and metal. We opened as always with the Top 5 Trending #VoltFac Tracks, the Classic Album Spotlight was The Afghan Whigs Gentlemen, there was a doubleshot of Nine Inch Nails and the Killer Cover had Local H covering Lorde's massive hit "Team."

If you missed it, the show will repeat tomorrow night at 10:00pm EST. Stream it via Vanyaland or through the TuneIn app.

This Wednesday The Voltage Factory will be presenting a special Halloween themed episode with some of the most notorious musicians who could very well launch their own horror business. We're talking Danzig, Ozzy and Rob Zombie among others.

The Voltage Factory: 22 OCT 14 [VOLTFAC-001]


01. AC/DC - "High Voltage"
02. The Pack A.D. - "Animal"
03. Led Zeppelin - "Jennings Farm Blues"         >Top 5 Trending #VoltFac Tracks
04. Peter Murphy - "Hang Up"
05. The Strypes - "Hard to Say No"
06. INVSN - "Down in the Shadows"
07. Interpol - "All the Rage Back Home"
08. L7 - "Pretend We're Dead"
09. Band of Skulls - "Asleep at the Wheel"
10. Girls Against Boys - "60 Is Greater Than 15"
11. Walking Papers - "Red Envelopes"
12. The Afghan Whigs - "Debonair" [Classic Album Spotlight]
13. My Chemical Romance - "Helena"
14. Arctic Monkeys - "Do I Wanna Know?"


01. Crystal Castles - "Loving and Caring"
02. Down - "N.O.D."
03. Corrosion of Conformity - "Albatross"
04. The Afghan Whigs - "Gentlemen" [Classic Album Spotlight]
05. Soundgarden - "Non-State Actor"
06. Placebo - "For What It's Worth"
07. Seether - "Words as Weapons"
08. Nine Inch Nails - "Deep"
09. Nine Inch Nails - "1,000,000"
10. Johnossi - "Seventeen"
11. Local H - "Team" [Killer Cover]
12. Bloody Hammers - "What's Haunting You?"
13. The Afghan Whigs - "Now You Know" [Classic Album Spotlight]
14. Queens of the Stone Age - "Fairweather Friends"
15. Motörhead - "Too Late Too Late"

22 October 2014

The Voltage Factory Launches Tonight on Vanya Radio

Tune in tonight at 8:00pm EST where I'll be hosting Vanya Radio's The Voltage Factory a blend of rock, punk and metal from yesterday and today. It'll be two hours of sonic pleasure.

To listen, go to the Vanyaland site and stream, or download the TuneIn app for all Android, Apple and Windows based devices.