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by Michael P. Irwin

12 Jul 2010


Legendary British metal band Iron Maiden posted a link recently to download a “preview” track from their upcoming studio album The Final Frontier, slated for release in August. This will be the band’s 15th studio album, three decades after their self-titled debut. The preview song, titled “El Dorado”, will be the second track from the new album, and it clocks in at nearly seven minutes. 

While initially excited about hearing a new song from one of my favorite bands, after an email discussion with a friend and fellow metal fan, I started to have some doubts. Iron Maiden has had an incredible career, but the last two releases have hardly had the same energy and depth of earlier work. Regardless, I downloaded the track from the band’s website.

Upon first listen, I thought about the positives first. The song has all of the trademarks of a good metal song: raw, heavy guitar riffs, a tight rhythm section, and lyrics full of mythical imagery. I found myself nodding my head or rapping my fingers along to the beat numerous times. Afterwards, however, I was left with one nagging question, and that question wiped out any of the positives I just named.

Why does it sound like American thrash metal?

This isn’t the Iron Maiden that I know. The band’s trademark sound—Bruce Dickinson’s inimitable vocals, intricate guitar work by Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, and Janick Gers, all laid down over Steve Harris’ galloping bass lines and Nicko McBrain’s drums—only presents itself in a few brief instances on “El Dorado”. - As a Maiden fan, and a metal fan in general, I found myself wanting more. Perhaps that’s one of the pitfalls of being in a band like Iron Maiden. The bar is set so high that it’s hard for to match up to what’s been done in the past. I hardly expected another “Run to the Hills”, “Aces High”, or “Wasted Years”, but I expected something better than this. I will admit that after listening to “El Dorado” half a dozen times, it’s started to grow on me, and perhaps when I listen to the remainder of the album this song will sound better to me. For now, I’ll rate this one on the low end, with hopes that I’ll change my mind after hearing The Final Frontier in its entirety this summer.

by William Carl Ferleman

12 Jul 2010


The latest version of The Smashing Pumpkins—including new drummer Mike Byrne (who fills heavy shoes) and new bassist Nicole Fiorentino—have recently unveiled the first official track from its second EP, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, Vol. 2:  The Solstice Bare. “Freak” is available online and for download at no charge. Billy Corgan notes that the 11 EPs he and the band envision will indeed be part of a larger project, an ambitious box set that will entail some 44 songs.

Unlike the previous Teargarden EP, “Freak” largely explores and builds on the Smashing Pumpkins’ earlier, mid-1990s sound while also very subtly hinting at the newly pointed and cultish, lysergic musical atmosphere of, say, “Astral Planes”. In fact, the swirling, hypnotic guitar bit that accompanies the principal riff is nothing but reminiscent of “Astral Planes”. But mainly the song is a marked departure from the first EP in that it doesn’t evince any sort of Led Zeppelin-oriented influence, as did both “A Song for a Son” and “A Stitch in Time”. Instead, “Freak” is particularly indebted to the uncompromisingly grungy B-sides found on Pisces Iscariot (1994). The song “Plume”, for instance, may be a credible forerunner, save that its riff is rather slow and contained. Nirvana’s In Utero (1993) also is a noticeable influence.

Lyrically, Jim Morrison’s sense of the dramatic attracts Corgan. Doors’ songs “Not to Touch the Earth” and the 11-minute rant-theatre “When the Music’s Over” (“What have they done to the earth?”) are unmistakable and flat-out obvious influences, as both are provocative and negotiate with the same topic of “Freak”. Corgan’s verse also seems a bona fide diatribe against the “killing machine”, especially during the largest oil spill in U.S. history. All of this with the Beatlesque honey of “La da da da da da da la da da da da da da da da da”. Corgan partially occludes his distinctive vitriol with the melodic and infectious. That is, “Freak” parallels Mellon Collie’s “Zero” but that the emphatic mellifluousness reigns supreme relative to the latter’s overt anger and angst.

by Sarah Zupko

9 Jul 2010


Boston power-poppers New Collisions have been touring with ‘80s pop legends Blondie and the B-52s, quite appropriate given that the female-fronted band’s slightly punky brand of pop bears a clear debt to the guitar-driven end of the ‘80s new wave explosion. The band has been scoring some early praise with New York Magazine putting them in their top 10 of CMJ 2009 performances and features in Time Out New York, The Boston Globe, and URB.

New Collisions recorded their upcoming debut album, The Optimist, in a mere 10 days using a live setting to best capture the band’s energy. The album produced by Sean Slade and Paul Kolderie (the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Radiohead) will release in all formats on October 1. Today, we offer the exclusive online premiere of the group’s new single “Dying Alone” from the upcoming record.

by L.B. Jeffries

9 Jul 2010


This video is a clever compilation of tracks from classic cinema set to Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger”. Pop was fresh out of rehab, in Paris, and being badgered by David Bowie to start making music when the tune was recorded. In many ways the song is classic Bowie but what always made it stand out was having Iggy Pop be the one to perform it. A song about being carried along by an awful drug addiction and finding faith that the world is still “made for you and me” has a much more impressive impact coming from Iggy. It’s also a refreshing angle on cinema, abandoning voyeur themes and affirming the classic sense that people “ride and ride” through a movie.

The song does make its winks and nods to film criticism as it goes. When Pop intones, “the stars made for us tonight” we cut to a couple making out on the beach in swimsuits. Clips are occasionally literal with lyrics, occasionally they match the rhythm of the song to a Hollywood dance routine, or matching the spirit of the scene to the line itself like the scene from Lawrence of Arabia where he is trying on his white garb for the first time appears with “Let’s take a ride and see what’s mine.”

by Chris Catania

8 Jul 2010


The surprise show is one of the greatest things that can happen to a concert fan. And one of the reasons I love surprise concerts is because they catch fans completely off guard. Whether the surprise concert lasts for only one song or goes on for an entire set, fans always get lifted off their feet. So, let’s see how Lenny Kravitz, Robert Plant, Jimmy Buffet and Dr. Dre and Timbaland set their fans floating home on cloud nine.

Ask any concert fan and they’ll tell you nothing beats being surprised at a show when one of your favorite artists walks on stage unexpectedly. Because the moment is so intense and unbelievable, the surprise concert instantly becomes unique from any other concert that you’ve experienced before.

I don’t know if it’s just that time of year, but these last few weeks have been prime time for surprising concert fans all over the globe. So, here’s a list of artists who gave their fans a memorable moment of rock and awe.

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