AlternativeNation.net’s Review Of Pearl Jam Guitarist Stone Gossard’s “Moonlander”

You know him as the rhythm guitarist for Pearl Jam, and the mastermind behind some of the prettiest, most melodic, and oddest tunes in that band’s catalogue. Stone Gossard has been an integral cog in the Pearl Jam machine since the group’s inception, but with that machine slowing down in recent years, many of its members have sought out other means of making music. For Gossard, this has been first in the form of his extraordinary other band Brad, and now, by focusing on a solo venture. Back in 2001, Gossard released his first foray into solo territory in the enigmatic Bayleaf, which flirted expertly between folk and garage rock influences.

Times have changed considerably since Bayleaf though, and in preparation of gearing up for his second solo release Moonlander (out officially today), Gossard has offered plenty of immersive options. First of all, since mid-April, songs have been streaming individually on a weekly basis to give listeners a chance to sample the album track by track. The creative and almost childish art style by Gossard himself that is represented in the album’s booklet pages has been sold as art pieces. More so, each character displayed in that artwork was made into limited edition plushies. All said, it’s a unique experience for an album, but what about the music, you may be asking? Well, that doesn’t disappoint either.

Of all the artists of Pearl Jam to venture from that central unit, the one who probably made the most interesting and least-Pearl Jam-ish music is Gossard. His range of musical influences and inspirations are all well felt on this 11 track journey. The carefree rock of opener “I Need Something Different” contains the same kind of simplistic riffage of the Gossard penned and sung “Mankind” from 1996’s No Code by Pearl Jam, or even “Pigeon” from Bayleaf. Title track “Moonlander” is a fine showcasing of Gossard’s other musical elements, with a catchy guitar twang, light piano strain, percussive twinkling, and a bombastic feel. The chorus emerges into a soulful croon with cooing female vocals.

“Both Live”, with its country flavor, was quoted by Gossard as being about utilizing “mediation on a conflict” in order to garner peace and understanding. Thus, it is not about avoiding conflict, but rather about preempting the viciousness of one so that neither side has to lose. The piano strains make it quite a catchy tune. For the true Gossard fans, they know that “Your Flames” is a well refined and crafted song. Unlike “Both Live”, lyrically this track is violent, which belies the bluesy and sparse vibe that is established by the piano and whispery soft vocals.
Following that is “Battle Cry”, which begins with a spacey and dreamy atmosphere that transforms into a tribal-esque number with pulsing percussion. When the guitar kicks in, yet a third layer of this song envelops you like a blanket. Gossard found a strange inspiration in a Hitler documentary that claimed that he used drugs. That was the basis for “King of the Junkies”, a fictional tale of Hitler’s last weeks as an addict, but of course it could be about anyone. Musically, it’s got plenty of emotion with bluesy electric guitar, jangling acoustics, and a jumpy, stuttering pace like a drug withdrawal.

“Remain” is a slice of pure Gossard, with introspective glimpses into friendship set against an emotive musical backdrop of delicate acoustic guitars. Next, “I Don’t Wanna Go to Bed” is as lyrically petulant as the song title suggests, and musically has as much of a temper with deep brass, tickling piano, and start-and-stop guitars. It’s in direct opposition to the last track with its attitude. “Bombs Away” reverts back to the calm and direct quality that is embodied by the acoustic jangling. This tune is, according to Gossard, a sort of roundabout means of talking about secrets.

Returning to a more upbeat note is the brief “Witch Doctor”, in which Gossard compares his successes and lifestyle to that of a, well, a witch doctor. This foot-tapper has a likeable beat, the return of the female backing vocals, and a memorable chorus. Album closer “Beyond Measure” delves into gospel, and beautifully at that, while also blending Gossard’s own brand of punk. The result is one of a kind and brilliant.

More unforgettable and varied than Bayleaf, Stone Gossard proves that his time away from the Pearl Jam clan has been laden with amazing tunes of his own design and sound. If you love Gossard’s quirky nature, then you will admire the rapid twists and turns of Moonlander, in which no two tracks are alike.
Rating: 5/5

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AlternativeNation.net’s Review of Crash Kings’ “Dark Of The Daylight”

I had only been casually familiar with the Crash Kings before seeing them open for Stone Temple Pilots last year at Bethel Woods; my local radio station constantly spammed their breakout hit “Mountain Man” around 2009. It was a pretty good track, but I was never inspired to listen to their album. The band took the stage on time, unlike STP, with vocalist and keyboard player Antonio Beliveau, bassist Mike Beliveau, and drummer Tom Rosla filling the ranks… but, conspicuously, no guitarist. That’s right, Crash Kings are probably one of the first hard rock bands to not include guitar in their music.

That didn’t stop the band from knocking the ball out of the park live: Antonio used a whammy bar on top of his keyboard to emulate the guitar sound, effectively pumping out shredding guitar solos without an actual guitar. They ended up being the highlight of the show (no disrespect to the always awesome DeLeos and Kretzel). I was quickly motivated to give their debut album a listen, which is a solid effort for a new band, a lot mellower than their live show, with many piano-driven ballads that seem to build off the sonic blueprint laid out by Jack White on the classic album Get Behind Me Satan.

After four years, the Kings have finally released their sophomore album, Dark of the Daylight, funded in part by Kickstarter. The band’s label decided to cut their funding and left them out in the dust; the band said they wanted to reclaim their industry and give the fans what they wanted. Evidently, they had a lot of fans: the album quickly reached its target goal of $15,000 in a 24 hour time period and ended up accumulating a total of $48,000 by the time the crowdfunder expired, money which (I  believe) went straight to them to use at their own will.

Thankfully, the album is a solid effort that pays respect to the band’s original sound while pushing it in new directions. Overall, Dark of the Daylight is a (no pun intended) darker affair than the band’s first record; the first three tracks and “Shameless Little Monkeys” are supercharged with a Zeppelinesque stomp. Beliveau’s Robert Plant-like vocals are enveloped by a ferocious rhythm section, and you wouldn’t believe that these songs didn’t have guitar in them. That’s not to say the album doesn’t have its mellower, more introspective moments: the fourth track, “So Many Ways”, has an airy, almost soulful but funky vibe that sounds unlike any song the band has put out before. “All Along” is a climactic sounding piano-driven powerhouse sure to please fans of the first record, “Lonely War” possess a catchy, bluesy sway, and “Hesitate” is a soulful ballad.

Overall, Dark of the Daylight is a sign of maturation for a fledging band, who are definitely forward thinking and injecting some creativity into your standard fare hard rock music. However, on a somewhat more important level, it signifies the shift in power that is taking place in the music industry right now, with the band following in the footsteps of pioneers like Trent Reznor and Radiohead who are attempting to give music to their fans without the hassles of a record label. Sure they may not be the first band to go the way of Kickstarter, but their success is still commendable.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

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LISTEN TO SOUNDGARDEN BASSIST BEN SHEPHERD’S DEBUT SOLO TRACK “BARON ROBBER”

Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd will release his debut solo album In Deep Owl under the name HBS (his born name is Hunter Benedict Shepherd) on August 27th according to SPIN.com. You can listen to the album’s first single “Baron Robber” above. Soundgarden/Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron and former Pearl Jam drummer Matt Chamberlain drum on the album. There are definite sonic similarities to Soundgarden within this new track, particularly in the last minute.

AlternativeNation.net’s Review of Plastic Visions’ Debut EP

Bowling Green band Plastic Visions

Brad Shultz (left) and Kane Stewart (right) of Plastic Visions

After the massive success of Cage the Elephant’s self-titled debut album, many aspiring musicians in the city of Bowling Green, Kentucky have been following the path their fellow band trailblazed. The result is a cohesive, tight knit, almost family oriented musical scene not too dissimilar to what was happening in Seattle in the 80’s and early 90’s. Musically, many of these bands are raw, energized, and shed mainstream radio cock rock and post-grunge tropes in favor of a sort of stripped down form of punk-grunge. Bands like Sleeper Agent have already started to ripple through to mainstream knowledge with their debut album, and others, such as Schools, are set to make it big with the release of their debut EP. Even bands located out of neighboring Nashville, Tennessee became associated with Bowling Green; artists like Bad Cop are getting heavily plugged by their Kentucky peers.

The latest band to come out of the “family” is the new project of Cage the Elephant guitarist Brad Shultz and his cousin, Kane Stewart, a Californian expatriate who recently settled in Nashville. Formed out of the ashes of Stewart’s previous project, The Sex Bombs, the duo’s debut EP, Plastic Visions, is a no-nonsense rock and roll effort that captures the frenetic-yet-poppy attitude of Nirvana and The Pixies, courtesy of Brad Shultz’s playing, and meshes it with Kane Stewart’s Californian surf-rock attitude. The EP, which is a depressingly short fifteen minutes, opens with a mid-tempo Pixies-esque barrage in “Kamikaze”, with vocalist Kane Stewart belting irreverent lyrics such as “you think you’re so fucking cool!” The song, which ends in a barraging, noisy guitar solo, transitions into the fast-paced punk rocker “Now I Know”, a very catchy and up-beat tune that I can only say is reminiscent of songs off of Nirvana’s classic Nevermind such as “Territorial Pissings”.

In what is surely the most accessible tune on the depressingly short E.P., “Little String” is a strong Generation Y anthem. “Well I got wound up tight”, Stewart belts out to a steady backbeat. “They cut me open, they stringed me up. That’s how it feels to be turned into a little string.” I believe the song has the potential to be a radio hit if the band ever makes it available for airplay: its catchy, psychedelic, and intense. “Bitch, This Ain’t LA”, the E.P.’s closer, is irreverent fun: at this point, it seems the band just wanted to have fun, throwing away deeper lyrical content for the sake of pure energy, with Kane Stewart ranting “listen to me. Bitch, this ain’t LA” over two minutes and ten seconds of pure, unadulterated noise-pop.

What Plastic Visions have given us is a fun, disappointingly yet appropriately short E.P. that continues the trend of promising young bands emerging from the Bowling Green, Kentucky area. Brad Shultz won’t be part of the band when it performs live due to his commitments to Cage the Elephant’s third studio release, but I’m sure Stewart will carve a niche in the Bowling Green/Nashville music scenes on his own.

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ROLLING STONES SECURITY TOLD RHCP TO AVOID HOTEL ENTRANCE BEFORE KIEDIS FIGHT

AlternativeNation.net reader Stones Friend left his account of the recent fight between Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis and security guards outside of the Four Seasons hotel in Philadelphia in our comments section yesterday:

“I was there. I know both bands. This is what happened.

There were hundreds of fans, professional “ebayers” and about 30 or so paparazzi all surrounding the hotel waiting for The Stones. The Stones security call the RHCP and told them they would have the front of the hotel blocked off at a certain time, so they could get the band out without being mobbed. They asked the Chili’s to use the side exit if they needed to leave the hotel during this 15 minute period when they blocked off the entrance.

Anthony either forgot, or didn’t care. He walked out…then walked through the crowd towards the hotel door. The gray headed security guards were local security hired for crowd control.

They dd not recognize Anthony and asked to see his room key. he told them to get lost, so the security tried to stop him, got pushed and slipped off the sidewalk and that is when it started. See TMZ’s site for a better angle of how it started.

Anthony was fine. I talked to him right after this and again, later that night. His Tour Manager was pissed because he got thrown into the bushes.

But they were all together in the bar at the end of the night and all is well. The bands are friends. The local security got a little over zealous, but Anthony knew in advance and should have had his key”.

TRENT REZNOR SAYS NINE INCH NAILS HAVE GOTTEN “BETTER” DUE TO RECENT LINEUP CHANGES

Trent Reznor was interviewed on KROQ’s Kevin and Bean radio show yesterday in Los Angeles.  Reznor discussed Nine Inch Nails’ upcoming comeback album Hesitation Marks.

On working with David Fincher: Trent said he learned collaboration from working with David Fincher. Before he worked with Fincher on film scores he only really collaborated significantly with Atticus Ross. He said it was “nice not having to call all the shots.” He said he’s now more comfortable able to collaborate with others and not be intimidated.

On Adrian Belew and Eric Avery’s ambiguous exits from Nine Inch Nails: “I started off with an idea of who I thought would be in the band, we started working that way. And you realize, you can spend a lot of time as I’ve done hypothesizing and imagining and projecting as to what it’s going to be like with this chemistry and this recipe of people in a room playing music. In reality, it rarely is that, it turned out to be something different. In the case of a couple people in the band, some switches were made, and it turned into something different. Much like any creative endeavor, it does go through that path of how you think it’s going to be and then how it actually ends up being. It’s felt like a wrench in the works at times but at the same time it’s made me rethink a lot of how we put this together and I think where we’re ending up at is much truer to what Nine Inch Nails should be and better in the long run.”

On Nine Inch Nails’ new David Lynch music video: “It’s weird, oddly enough, strangely enough yes.” He also revealed that it’s coming out at the end of this week.

You can listen to the interview below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

AlternativeNation.net Music News

GRUNGEREPORT.NET OFFICIALLY CHANGES ITS NAME TO ALTERNATIVENATION.NET

Well, after 6 months of hype, the Chinese Democracy of website name changes has finally happened! GrungeReport.net has changed its name to AlternativeNation.net! We’re still covering all of your favorite bands from GrungeReport.net, we even have a ‘Grunge Report’ subsection that focuses on the initial bands covered on GrungeReport.net (the Seattle bands/STP/Smashing Pumpkins) for people who just want to know what those bands are up to. On Alternative Nation we have added Radiohead, Weezer, Deftones, Green Day, Cage the Elephant, Dead Sara, and Silversun Pickups to our bands covered. We’ll add some more over the next few months, two artists I am strongly considering covering are former White Stripes frontman Jack White and former Wolfmother frontman Andrew Stockdale.

We’re trying out a ‘Setlists’ subsection as well. We’ll be adding a bunch of new reporters/writers in the next few days, I’m hoping a few of them stick around and are good. We’re looking at making a non WordPress layout for the site early next year, but for now we’ll stick with this one, despite some of the pain in the ass glitches when it comes to posting!

I’d like to thank Joseph Thomas for donating the money to buy the AlternativeNation.net domain and longtime reader Andrei Toth for coming up with the name idea. My Dad put in a lot of work on moving on the site over, so thanks to him as well. Also thank you to all of the loyal readers, trolls, and anybody who has ever written for the site!

Also I’d like to throw in a quick plug for my Stone Temple Pilots fan forum STPfans.com

WEEZER ANNOUNCE SHOW IN CINCINNATI, OHIO

The following comes from Weezer’s official website:

Midwestern Weezer Troops! We are happy to announce that we are playing the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio on September 20th!  Last year we played the Bunbury Festival, but this is the first headlining show we’ve done in the Cincy are in a long time. So come on down and rock out with us!

General On-Sale begins Friday June 28 at 10am

Tickets:
http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/16004AD30021A5DC?camefrom=UCI_Weezer

DAVE GROHL’S BRAIN “WORKING OVERTIME” ON NEW FOO FIGHTERS ALBUM

Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins discussed the band’s next album in a new interview with Billboard:

“We’re getting our ideas together. Dave (Grohl) has his brain working overtime, like usual, and he’s got a lot of great ideas, both musically and conceptually — none that I can speak of at this moment, but it’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be cool.”

“You always want every one of them to be the best one you’ve ever done, and you always think you haven’t done your best one,” Hawkins acknowledges. “Although some people may feel we have, I still think we haven’t written our ‘Hotel California’ or our ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ or whatever. You should always be a little scared…Every time you start a record, you have to be, like, ready to fuckin’ kill yourself or it’s not gonna be any good.”

MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN DONATES PLATINUM TOOL & A PERFECT CIRCLE ALBUMS TO OKLAHOMA ANIMAL CHARITY

According to FourthEye.net Maynard James Keenan has donated plantinum copies of Tool’s Undertow and A Perfect Circle’s Mer De Noms to support Oklahoma’s Animal Resource Center which was hit by recent tornadoes.

“Our first 2 items for auction are the personal RIAA sales plaques that once belonged to Maynard James Keenan of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. After the May tornado’s destroyed countless homes and lives across Oklahoma, Maynard thru his trainer gave us his plaques for the specific purpose of helping in relief efforts. The following pictures below serve as genuine authentication that the actual auction items once belonging to Maynard James Keenan.”

You can bid by clicking here.

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE COVER MARK LANEGAN’S "ONE HUNDRED DAYS"

Mark Lanegan’s relationship with Queens of the Stone Age dates back to 2000 where he contributed vocals to Rated R.  From then on, he continuously has provided vocals to Queens of the Stone Age releases as well as some of their live shows.

Queens of the Stone Age recently played a three-song acoustic set for French Radio OuiFM, in which they paid respect to Lanegan by covering “One Hundred Days,” a song off his 2004 solo album, Bubblegum.

You can hear it on QOTSA’s soundcloud here:

MARK LANEGAN TO RELEASE ‘CROONER’ RECORD THIS FALL

Photo by Lauren Slusher.

In a new interview with Q Magazine, Mark Lanegan discussed his collaborations and what he’s been recently working on. Lanegan talked about the positive experience he had working with Duke Garwood on their recent collaboration album ‘Black Pudding.’ While discussing his collaborations with various artists such as Josh Homme and Greg Dulli, he said that “the music is secondary to our friendship.” Lanegan also revealed that he will be releasing a new album in the fall of this year.

On the topic of his new record, Lanegan said: “I wanted to make a record with a crooner-ish type of song, for want of a better term. You know, orchestrated, stuff like Andy Williams or Perry Como would do. I ended-up recording a record like that in February, it’s going to be out in the fall. That was something I wanted to do for years and years.” Lanegan also added: “I do a John Cale song, a Nick Cave song but in that style. It’s called Imitations.”

Finally, Lanegan said that he’s been writing songs every day for the next Mark Lanegan Band album. The ‘crooner’ album and the new Mark Lanegan Band album are “all [he has] on the docket” right now. Lanegan recently rumored a two-disc anthology set and a new Gutter Twins album in the future, but the interview made no mention of these projects. Read the rest of the interview at Q Magazine.

SCOTT WEILAND GETS MARRIED FOR THE THIRD TIME

Former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland married photographer Jamie Wachtel yesterday at their home in Los Angeles. Weiland and Wachtel started dating in late 2011. Congratulations to the couple!

“We had the most beautiful, heartfelt ceremony,” Wachtel tells People. She added, “We all cried and laughed. Scott and I are over the moon!” Weiland was outfitted in John Varvatos and their rings were made by Pade Vavra.

This is Weiland’s third marriage. He was married to Janina Castaneda from 1994 to 2000, and to Mary Forsberg from 2000 to 2007. Weiland has two children with Mary, Noah and Lucy.