“Therupy” by Kottak

Artist: Kottak
Title: “Therupy”
Label: Escapi Music
Release Date: 9/12/2006
Genre: Punk & Roll
Rating: 3/5

Reading the press release for Kottak you find the band cited as being “Green Day meets Cheap Trick on a bad day”. I felt it was amusing but a bit much if you asked me but after a couple of quick listens it seems like that was the vibe that the group was aiming at. Founded by James Kottak (drummer for Kingdom Come and Scorpions) who now calls himself Jimmy Ratchitt and Tommy Lee’s sister Athena the group does have some catchy numbers on their Escapi Music debut “Therupy”. Power Punk is not as abrasive as its old school counterpart is and generally has a little more melody as opposed to chaos making it up and with songs like “Miss You” the band shows a contemporary Rock basis. It could easily be a radio hit if they played their cards right. The album opens up with a rousing rendition of Cindy Lauper’s “Money Changes everything” and while I never expected to find myself bopping to one of her tunes the folks in Kottak surely make you change your stance on that. Joining Jimmy and Athena are Dave Whiston (lead guitar), & Rev Jones (bass) and together it’s a solid quartet that deliver their brand of music with determination. Some of the more memorable numbers are “Ripped”, “Song That Wont go Away” and “Life Support” but I have to be honest that the rendition of the Scorpions classic “Holiday” was awful in my eyes. Overall the album is decent and if catchy, quirky riffs and lyrics get your attention then you might really like this one. Tommy’s Sister Athena is a rocking drummer and it was cool to see what else a drummer like Jimmy could do when stepping off the drum kit. Give it a listen or catch a show if they come to town. It seems like good live music and having seen Rev Jones with MSG know that he is a killer player on stage and fun to watch.
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“Live At CBGB 1982” by Bad Brains

Artist: Bad Brains
Title: “Live At CBGB 1982”
Label: Music Video Distributors
Release Date: 9/26/2006
Genre: Hardcore Punk
Rating: 3/5

The year was 1982 and the Hardcore Punk scene was in full bloom withone of the main places to witness the intensity of this scene being C.B.G.B.’s. One of the seminal bands that performed at the venue would be the Bad Brains and this DVD takes selections from a course of three nights as they headlined the Hardcore Festival which was being hosted there. Needless to say this is a hurricane of Hardcore power from start to finish and while I can admit that this was not my thing – you truly don’t need to be a fan of the band or the scene to appreciate and enjoy the level of energy and drive that the group gave during a live performance. As soon as it begins the slamming is happening on and off the stage and the bodies are everywhere as the audience continually jumps onto the band area only to dive into their fellow fans. There are parts where singer H.R. is slamming with them. If you have ever seen the inside of C.B.G.B. you know that it is not huge where all this takes place and given the amount of people you see in the crowd this was a totally full house. When this scene was at its zenith a full house at the venue was not uncommon and the craziness is captured to perfection on this film. The band is tight for what they do and while most of the numbers are their hardcore staples, they even mix it up to play a few of their Reggae numbers. It’s a unique dynamic to see such different genres portrayed during the same short set especially at this time. Taking this for what it is, which is a straight live performance with limited fluff to it (well it was 1982 after all) this is a really good release. It offers fans of the band a large amount of their songs and the music historian a great measure of a point in time. Bad Brains footage of this quality has been impossible to find and now thanks to the MVD folks that is no longer the case. Among the highlights on the DVD would be “Riot Squad” and “How Low Can A Punk Get”, also at one point the club loses light by blowing a fuse and the band keeps playing in total darkness. The release comes with some bonus interview segments but they are nothing really to speak of. Get a glimpse back into musical history with this release.
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Cactus @ B.B. King Blues Club (9/19/2006)

Logo - Cactus

In the annals of Blues-based Hard Rock, the name of Cactus is a well-respected one. They were often referred to as the American Led Zeppelin and their reunion shows are loaded with melody and groove. The band would be returning to B.B. King Blues Club with The Lizards in tow as their opener. Our own Joe Kaufman was on point to bring this show’s highlights to those who could not attend.

Artist: Cactus
Venue: B. B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: the Lizards
Date: 9/19/2006
Label: Escapi Music

My friend asked me what I was doing Tuesday night and I said I was going to see Cactus and the Lizards. He then said, “What are you going to the desert?” I replied, “No, I am going to BB Kings in NYC to catch some Rock with the bands The Lizards and Cactus”.

The night started with the Lizards, a rocking group we have covered at Piercing Metal numerous times. Once again, the Lizards deliver a solid, hard rocking set of original classic rock influenced songs. An expertly executed blend of elements from 70’s and 80’s Hard Rock and Metal. Drummer Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, BOC) along with bassist Randy Pratt get a great heavy dynamic groove going, while guitarist Patrick Klein lays down the riffs, and highly musical leads. Vocalist and Keyboardist Mike DiMeo also adds some excellent keyboard playing along with his strong vocals. Their set had a dynamic range of songs from riff rockers, funky bluesy rock to dark and moody. A solid rocking band with a classic, yet fresh style. The band is supporting their recently released album “Against All Odds”. It’s a CD that bears checking out.
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“Marking Time” by Fluttr Effect

Artist: Fluttr Effect
Title: “Marking Time”
Label: 10T Records
Release Date: Progressive Rock/Experimental
Rating: 4/5

Every once in awhile you come across a band that chooses to raise the bar, or up the ante against the normal way of doing things and here we find Fluttr Effect as the group doing it this time around. This very interesting Boston-based quintet touches upon the Pop genre on occasion but only after a hefty blend of Progressive, Celtic and Trip-Hop elements are used to a wonderful effect. Singer Trott has some inflections in her voice to Gwen Stefani, and perhaps that is just the production on the release for nothing else comes across as the Ska band No Doubt by any measure. The musical diversity shows quite clearly on the recording based on their use of electric cello instead of traditional bass and the inclusion of a MIDI marimba along with the standard drums and guitar. Songs like “Venus Loves Hades” have a great potential for a hit single should the band find the proper outlet of listener in the mainstream realm while “Nowhere” and “Talk To Me” have deft levels of Progressive vibe that will surely impress that often-critical brand of listener. It is very apparent that some of the bands influences fall on early Seventies Prog and Rock and are blended together on such killer selections like “Awake”. The roster for the band is comprised of Kara Trott (vocals), Troy Kidwell (guitar), Vessela Stoyanova (MIDI Marimba), Valerie Thompson (electric cello), and J. Marchionna (drums/percussion) and all of them work together very well on this recording, their second. “Marking Time” is referred to as “Think Rock” but I feel the record is Technical Rock with a twist of Progressive added for extra taste. If you are one of those fans that enjoys an element of surprise at what can be done in Rock music then this is the band for you.

Track Listing:
1. Like This
2. Talk To Me
3. Awake
4. Hollywood Is Porn
5. February First 1896
6. Lucky Glove
7. Don’t Know What You’re Living For
8. Venus Loves Hades
9. Nowhere
10. Marking Time
11. Transmission – bonus

Official Website: http://www.fluttreffect.com

“Karmacode” by Lacuna Coil

Artist: Lacuna Coil
Title: “Karmacode”
Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: 4/4/2006
Genre: Gothic Rock
Rating: 3.5/5

“Karmacode” is the long-awaited follow up to Lacuna Coil’s ground-breaking “Comalies” album and at first listen you will find that while this is a great production it is not exactly the same Lacuna Coil that we loved on the record that garnered them so much attention. As a fan of that album especially, I felt that the band was aiming a little more at the audience that follows Evanescence and there is some of that vibe happening in the music as well. Given that bands absence from new material when this hit the streets this was perhaps a good decision to make in order to fill the need for this style of music. I really enjoyed “Comalies” and it’s always hard to compare a follow up to an album that did so much for a bands career and became so endearing. Remember, it was released in 2003 and then found a special edition release with tons of bonus stuff in 2004. With “Comalies” they showed a lot more intensity and drive while this “Karmacode” seems to take a safer route and focus less on dramatics and more on atmosphere. “Closer” and “In Visible Light” in particular showcase this premise for me. I did not find the production to be as eerie as “Comalies” nor as much in your face. Tracks like “Fragile” and “To The Edge” are nice, but did not hit me with the same level of impact that “Heaven’s A Lie” did. Yes there are a couple of numbers that have the expected vibe such as “Closer” and “The Game”, but overall the whole release seems like the band was trying different things with some of the songs on this one.
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