MUSIC DISCOVERY MONDAY – 2/5/18
Music Discovery Monday shines a light on artists that are not getting the radio attention that they deserve, while also showcasing new singles by established bands that are likely to get airplay in the future.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher/Editor, Hard Rock Daddy)
GWAR – “Phantom Limb”
There are two types of hard rock/metal fans…those who are familiar with the larger-than-life shadow that GWAR casts, but not necessarily their music, and those who are diehard fans. In all honesty, I fall into the former category.
I have been familiar with GWAR for many years, but I don’t know much of their music. This is a band that has its share of detractors because of their over-the-top image, but I don’t include myself in that group. I may have never looked past their monster-like ways to judge the music, but I never had any negative thoughts about them.
Discovering new music is a never-ending process that comes in many shapes and forms. Although I was well aware that Dave Brockie (aka Oderus Urungus) died of a heroin overdose in 2014, as I mentioned, GWAR is a band that has always lurked in the shadows for me. I didn’t discover this brilliant tribute to the departed frontman until I listened to the Top 10 Albums of 2017 on the Decibel Geek podcast.
You don’t necessarily expect a poignant, heartfelt tribute from a band of cartoonish monsters, but that is exactly what “Phantom Limb” delivers. The song begins with an upbeat riff that harkens back to the early days of Dokken before settling in on a powerfully haunting melancholic vibe that conjures up memories of W.A.S.P.’s Crimson Idol album and the Bon Scott era of AC/DC.
A phantom limb is “the sensation that an amputated or missing limb is still attached.” Taking this physical phenomenon and applying it to the loss of a person whose presence still looms large long after their passing is a clever way of showing that the impact of someone’s life lingers after their death.
Oderus Urungus was one of the founding members of GWAR, with a history that spans three decades in total. GWAR’s 2017 release, The Blood Of Gods, was their first since Brockie’s passing. Filling shoes this big was clearly no easy task, but Michael Bishop (aka Blöthar) has done an admirable job on “Phantom Limb.” Bishop is no ordinary replacement though. This is actually his third stint with the band. During his previous times with the band, he was the bass player known as Beefcake The Mighty.
In a short-attention span society, we are more likely than ever to judge a book by its cover, an issue that GWAR has been dealing with throughout their career. However, if you are a reader of Music Discovery Monday, you are here to look beyond the cover. Trust me…you do NOT want to miss out on this killer tune because you don’t understand the band’s image or backstory.
ACCEPT – “Die By The Sword”
For various reasons, new releases can fly beneath my radar, even from established bands like Accept. Truthfully, there is just so much quality hard rock and metal being released these days that it’s impossible to keep up with everything. Such is the case with Accept’s “Die By The Sword,” which I also heard while listening to the aforementioned Decibel Geek podcast.
Even though Udo Dirkschneider’s time as the frontman of Accept is pretty far in the rearview mirror at this point, the classic albums that he made with the band during my youth are still the ones that I think of when the band’s name is mentioned. However, Mark Tornillo has done an admirable job since he took over as the frontman in 2009.
2017’s The Rise Of Chaos is the fourth studio release with Tornillo at the helm. From that album comes “Die By The Sword,” a pure heavy metal song that blends the haunting backing vocals that were prevalent on Accept’s classic Balls To The Wall album and the relentless, driving rhythm of Metallica circa Master Of Puppets. Tornillo’s angst-ridden vocals (that seem to emanate from his soul) are highlighted by timely heavy metal shrieks and a dual-guitar assault that defines so many of the legendary acts in the genre.
“Die By The Sword” is everything that you want in a timeless heavy metal song. If you’re a fan of any of Accept’s early work, you will love this tune.
KURT ARFT – HRD Music Scout
BLACK STAR RIDERS – “Dancing With The Wrong Girl”
Black Star Riders was born from legendary rock icons, Thin Lizzy. “Dancing With The Wrong Girl” is a hybrid of sorts, combining the musicality and spirit of Thin Lizzy with the new vision and outlook of Black Star Riders. This pure rock and roll band (made up of superstar talent) deserves much more attention than they get.
Frontman Ricky Warwick (The Almighty, Thin Lizzy) has a distinct rock voice that lends itself to many different styles and levels of music. His lyrics paint a descriptive and precise mental picture. Warwick is the one that came up with the Black Star Riders moniker. The band is named after a gang of outlaws from one of my favorite movies, Tombstone.
Guitarist and founder Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy), whose guitar work has gone unnoticed for far too long, was the catalyst for forming the band out of respect to Phil Lynott and the legacy that he created with Thin Lizzy. He is the driving force behind the sound of the band.
Damon Johnson (Brother Cane, Alice Cooper, Thin Lizzy) is another masterful songwriter and guitar player that is absolutely overlooked as one of the greats. He has created (and been a part of) numerous incredible songs. It’s almost criminal that he doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves.
Bassist Robbie Crane (Vince Neil, RATT, Lynch Mob) is as solid and dependable as they come when it comes to bass players. He has really come into his own with BSR. “Dancing With The Wrong Girl” is his first composer credit with the band. Filling out the rhythm section is Chad Szeliga (Breaking Benjamin, Black Label Society), one of the best technical, hard-hitting drummers in the game today.
“Dancing with the Wrong Girl” is a fun little tune that comes from the band’s latest release, Heavy Fire. It showcases the voice and lyrics of Warwick, combined with the dual axe attack of Gorham and Johnson, and of course, the solid rhythm section holding down the fort. Crane throws in some nice bass runs for good measure, making this a great rock ‘n roll tune.
“Dancing With The Wrong Girls” is a song that I can picture blasting while driving down the road in the summertime with the windows open. It’s a feel-good song with some great visuals in the video. You can feel the joy and fun that Black Star Riders have together as they create something special for listeners.
TYLER BRYANT & THE SHAKEDOWN – “Easy Target”
On last week’s Music Discovery Monday review of Jared James Nichols, I wondered aloud about the next class of guitar gunslingers. If Nichols is at the head of the class, Tyler Bryant is a close second.
Bryant appeared on my radar back in November of 2015, when he and his band (The Shakedown) were playing in support of Reverend Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) on his solo tour. The band has also supported other big names in rock and roll, including: Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Aerosmith, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. This is quite an impressive list for a guitarist still in his 20s.
Bryant and his band brought down the house with his solo performance at the show that I saw in Milwaukee. The kid has that magic, that “it” factor (if you will). He wasn’t even phased when he broke a string in the middle of the first song. He finished up, switched guitars, and proceeded to put on a one-man show like I’ve never experienced before.
A couple of times during the set, Bryant stepped away from the mic and sang out to the crowd without the use of the mic and PA. It really was an incredible sight to behold. People were eating it up. It was one of my favorite performances in recent memory. Although he’s still young, he has the skills, ability, and soul of someone twice his age.
“Easy Target” comes from the band’s self-titled, sophomore, blues-based rock album. The ambience of the song transports you to a small stage in a dimly lit, smoky bar. Bryant’s guitar solo in the song crazy good.
I hope you enjoy Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown, and will share this with your friends. Music is meant to be shared not only by the artists, but also the music fans. Turn someone onto it!
To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to – submissions@MusicDiscoveryMonday.com