By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Sons of Otis
Listening is like fishing. Most music never comes near your hook. Some of it nibbles and swims away. Some of what you land you throw back. Sometimes you fall in the water and it swallows you up.
The following is music that I reeled in over the course of the year and stuck in the freezer. I thawed it out and deep-fried it, and I‘m gonna eat it all right now.
Sons of Otis, Songs for Worship (The Music Cartel). A truly great work of stoner art. Though Toronto’s Sons of Otis were named for a character in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, not the drunk on The Andy Griffith Show, both cultural references are apropos. There‘s so much low end going on here that you’ll feel like you‘re crawling through a roadside ditch after a cloudburst. The riffs are slow and lack all taint of wit. And the singer stays where he belongs, moaning incomprehensibly at the other end of a culvert. Hint: Songs for Worship sounds better and better the louder you play it. But don’t worry about your ears, which sustain more damage from higher frequencies. Worry about your pants.
Roachpowder, Atomic Church (The Music Cartel). The squealing, skidding slide guitars that expand into this disc‘s first head-boxing riff render drugs hardly necessary. These Swedes (and a Canadian) make sure there’s enough fuzz, wah, cowbells and cymbal backwash to go around, layering around 60 guitars on every song while singer Francisco Rencoret bawls about stuff like the ”Balls of the Sun.“ A headache that really lasts.
Canyon Creep, Hijack the World (www.canyoncreep.com). They got some damn good hard-rock bands up there in the Bay Area, and I don‘t mean Frisco. Guitarist-bellower Tony Buhagiar and his two buddies whomp along like they know right where they’re going but don‘t care when they get there as long as they get there drunk. When Tony gets snubbed by some quarry, he’s proudly philosophical: ”Can‘t afford you anyway!“ I nominate the James Gang--meets--ZZ Top progression in ”Black Bra“ for Riff of the Year.
38 Special, A Wild-Eyed Christmas (CMC International). You remember that ’70s Southern-rock band 38 Special, the one with Ronnie Van Zant‘s brother in it? You know that Xmas album you’ve been clamoring for them to make? Couldn‘t sleep till it came out? Well, it’s here.
Prime Cuts: The Alice Cooper Story (Sanctuary DVD). He wouldn‘t be alive if he’d stayed there, but Prime Cuts, a greatly expanded two-disc version of an earlier VHS release, is a hell of a reminder of how close to the edge Uncle Alice staggered 30 years ago. Can‘t blame him for the way he gets his jollies now: packaging his interviews and clips (thanks for loading them in favor of the great original band he formed with his Arizona track-team pals) in a ridiculous video-board-game format that he’d never have been able to figure out in his previous marinated state. Wide-screen! Surround-sound! (Why?!)
Symphony X, Live on the Edge of Forever (Inside Out Music America). Hardly anybody exceeds this excessively anymore. A double CD of thundering, twiddling, keyboard-laden grandiosity, with soap-operatic vocals that make you want to eat a box of liqueur-filled chocolates with Joe Lynn Turner, this is music that could only come from Europe or New Jersey -- and it‘s from both! (Recorded in the Old Country by guys from west o’ the Hudson.) Live may not have the string sections or Latin mottoes of last year‘s V: The Mythology Suite studio release, but these crusaders demonstrate that once you learn how to rhyme ”ages“ and ”sages,“ you never forget. Aah-AAAAAHH!!!!
Black Label Society, Alcohol Fueled Brewtality Live!! Plus 5 (Spitfire). A private Gulp Poll has determined that 100 percent of two Americans name Zakk Wylde as the most improved electric guitarist of the last decade. Disc 1 documents his Black Label Society’s sonically (and, for Zakk, psychologically) punishing Penchant for Violence Tour 2000, and any song from it contains more heaviness than 20 Limp Bizkit albums. Disc 2 offers five songs featuring acoustic guitar and acoustic piano, including Black Sabbath‘s ”Snowblind“ and Neil Young’s ”Heart of Gold“ (!). And it‘s even heavier. He’s a singer, too, y‘know.
Derek Sherinian, Inertia (www.dereksherinian.com). Whatever you think of Toto, you can’t deny that drummer Simon Phillips and guitarist Steve Lukather can play. Guys like that love to freak out when they get the chance, which is where keyboardist Sherinian (Dream Theater, Planet X) comes in. He‘s quite the chopsman himself, but here he’s mostly interested in showcasing his fusiony compositions (plus creditable covers of Edgar Winter‘s ”Frankenstein“ and Mingus’ ”Goodbye Porkpie Hat“), and in providing atmosphere and bold reharmonizations -- not that he doesn‘t lean on his pitch-bending wheel and wail when he wants to simulate a load of blow up the left nostril. This album rocks out the most, of course, on the three tracks that feature the aforementioned Mr. Wylde. Notice how this review provides a subtle bridge to ”Jazz“?