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Sixx:AM – Modern Vintage [Review]

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 Sixx:A.M. – Modern Vintage
2014, Eleven Seven Music
Buy the album

1. “Stars”
2. “Gotta Get It Right”
3. “Relief”
4. “Get Ya Some”
5. “Let’s Go”
6. “Drive”
7. “Give Me a Love”
8. “Hyperventilate”
9. “High on the Music”
10. “Miracle”
11. “Before It’s Over”

Band:
James Michael – Vocals, Keyboards
DJ Ashba – Guitar
Nikki Sixx – Bass

Additional Musicians:
Jeff Fabb – Drums

Producer: James Michael

This is the third release from what was originally intended to be a Nikki Sixx side-project that I now hope will become a full blown touring/recording band once Motley Crue finally wraps up their concert days. Going back to the band’s debut, they always had a knack for writing big choruses and catchy melodies although given the nature of lyrical content, the music was a bit more ugly and harder edged. This Is Gonna Hurt featured the band spreading their wings and writing hook after hook and chorus after chorus. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time and still receives play from me to this day.

With Modern Vintage, it seems like the band is experimenting with styles a bit. This Is Gonna Hurt definitely had some pop moments that would’ve have sounded out of place on a Kelly Clarkson album but now it seems like the band is trying out what I basically think is dance rock with a song like “Miracle”. Then there’s “High on the Music” which comes across as a reworking of Imagine Dragon’s “Ready to Rock You”. Then there’s a pretty straightforward cover of The Car’s “Drive” that seems pretty pointless.

“Before It’s Over” is kind of an odd one in that it’s a bouncy tune featuring trumpets. It’s strange and sounds like something that could’ve been from The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack. I hated it when I first heard it but it’s growing on me just because it’s quirky. I’m glad it closes the album though. It would’ve completely ruined the album had it been stuck somewhere in the middle.”Get Ya Some” sounds like it could’ve come from the debut as well.

Sixx:A.M. has always written catchy music but it seems like they are making an effort with some songs to become a bit more mainstream. This isn’t necessarily bad but songs like “Miracle” and “High on the Music” seem to get their inspiration from music scenes I couldn’t care less about. On the flip side, “Stars” and “Gotta Get It Right” are stone-cold classics and sound like they could’ve come from This Is Gonna Hurt, which was a great album from top to bottom with zero filler.

Modern Vintage is a good release that’s better than their debut but a step down from This Is Gonna Hurt. Perhaps the band would’ve been better off releasing an EP as I’m finding half the album to essentially be filler.

Highlights: “Stars”, “Gotta Get It Right”, “Relief”, “Give Me a Love”, “Hyperventilate”, “Before It’s Over”

The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/

Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

Sixx:A.M. – Codependence [single]

Sixx:A.M. – Codependence [single] (2011, Eleven Seven Music)

1. “Codependence” … 3:37

Band:
James Michael – Vocals, Drums, Guitar
DJ Ashba – Guitar
Nikki Sixx – Bass

Producer: James Michael

On the same day the band released 7 (an EP  featuring stripped down and rearranged versions of previously released songs) for download, Sixx:A.M. also released the song “Codependence” exclusively through iTunes for FREE. “Codependence” comes from the This Is Gonna Hurt sessions and while it was previously unreleased here in the United States, it appeared as a bonus track when the album was issued in Japan.

Though Japan often gets bonus tracks, sometimes those tracks aren’t really worth listening to in the first place, they’re just filler. Well, that’s not the case this time. “Codependence” doesn’t rate with the very best of This Is Gonna Hurt but I still like it. It’s much more straight forward than most of the tracks from the album making it a bit less memorable whenever James Michael is singing a chorus he can make the song sound like something you should be paying attention to. Even through the self-loathing and moody lyrics a lot of Sixx:A.M.  come off sounding like really cool rock anthems and that’s what “Codependence” is to me.

But why take my word for it? It’s FREE. Go download it and listen.

http://sixxammusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sixxammusic

Sixx:A.M. – 7

Sixx:A.M. – 7 (2011, Eleven Seven Music)

1. “Lies of the Beautiful People” … 3:58
2. “This Is Gonna Hurt” … 4:46
3. “Life Is Beautiful” … 4:08
4. “Help Is On the Way” … 4:05
5. “Sure Feels Right” … 4:08
6. “Pray for Me” … 4:28
7. “Accidents Can Happen” … 4:09

Band:
James Michael – Vocals, Keyboards, Drums, Strings, Guitar
DJ Ashba – Guitar
Nikki Sixx – Bass

Producer: James Michael

One good thing about the digital age of music is how quickly a project can be announced to the public and then released. It was late November when Sixx:A.M. announced an acoustic EP was on its way and just a few weeks later it was digitally released on December 13th. I think it’s an iTunes exclusive but I’m not positive.

I’ve always been a fan of Sixx:A.M. Despite a few odd moments, The Heroin Diaries was good overall and This Is Gonna Hurt (which was released earlier this year) is absolutely fantastic with not a single foul track to be found. They’re a great live band as well. So when they announced they were re-working previous songs into an acoustic EP, I knew it was going to be good.

The whole acoustic thing isn’t really appropriate labeling though. The band has since backed off a bit on calling 7 an acoustic EP, preferring to say the songs are “stripped down”, which is the accurate statement. It’s not as if this is an “unplugged” performance. The production is still here, electric guitars as well, but the arrangements are different and acoustic instruments feature more prominently.

I like how James Michael didn’t lower his voice to a whisper just because the songs are “stripped down” and the tempo has changed. He’s still soaring on these songs when appropriate and he continues to prove himself as one of rock’s best vocalists.

I think “This Is Gonna Hurt” is a particularly beautiful song and stands out the most on this EP. The band has taken it in a completely different direction here and have turned it into a haunting piano-based ballad. Given Sixx:A.M.’s strong sense of melody and dark, emotive lyrics you can pretty much switch any of there songs from rocker to ballad or ballad to rocker and come out with great results.

The final words I have to say is that these were all great songs in their original form. They are all given a twist here on 7 and I consider the whole experiment a huge success. Sixx:A.M. itself has been a huge success in my eyes. They are one of the best bands to come along in the last 10 years and I’m anxious to see what else they have planned.

http://sixxammusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sixxammusic

Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt

Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt (2011, Eleven Seven Music)

1. “This Is Gonna Hurt”
2. “Lies Of The Beautiful People”
3. “Are You With Me”
4. “Live Forever”
5. “Sure Feels Right”
6. “Deadlihood”
7. “Smile”
8. “Help Is On The Way”
9. “Oh My God”
10. “Goodbye My Friends”
11. “Skin”

Band:
James Michael – Vocals, Keyboards, Drums, Strings, Guitar
DJ Ashba – Guitar
Nikki Sixx – Bass

Producer: James Michael

Nikki’s side-project is at it again and, no surprise, he’s doing the dual promotion thing by releasing a collection of photos and personal stories called “This Is Gonna Hurt: Music, Photography And Life Through The Distorted Lens of Nikki Sixx” at the same time. I haven’t picked the book up yet but I’m hearing good things about it so I plan on doing it soon. The difference this time is that The Heroin Diaries served as a soundtrack to the book of the same name where as there is only a loose theme connecting the album and book. Basically, the theme is that beauty can be found in anything and anyone and not necessarily in what society deems to be “beautiful”. “Lies Of The Beautiful People” and “Skin” deal with this idea explicitly.

Given this looser connection to Nikki’s latest book, This Is Gonna Hurt is certainly the more commercial sounding of the two albums they’ve released. It’s freed from the shackles of trying to tell a story and reflect chapters in a book so what they’ve delivered is a hooky and haunting collection of modern alternative hard rock that is radio-ready and melodic yet with lyrics still dark and emo enough for people who like to shop at Hot Topic and wear black fingernail polish. Though Sixx:A.M. has no intentions to tour, I could see them doing well as an opening act for a band like Avenged Sevenfold.

So, seeing as how this album seems to have been written with airplay in mind some of the songs don’t necessarily come across as anything special. While there are no bad songs on this album, a few come across as exactly what they are — attempts at commercialism. Though I suppose it has worked since the album sold 30k copies in the first week and debuted at #10 on the Billboard charts.

This album seems to run the gamut. There are hard rockin’ anthems like the excellent “This Is Gonna Hurt” and the lead single “Lies Of The Beautiful People”, the rock/pop of “Are You With Me” (think Daughtry or David Cook) and then there are tender moments like the album’s low-key closing number “Skin” or the laid back country pop of “Feels So Right”. “Live Forever” is another album high point and along with “Smile” it really helps to point out the album’s more positive and upbeat nature in comparison to The Heroin Diaries.

But don’t worry, there are darker moments like the emo-tastic “Deadlihood” and “Goodbye My Friends while “Help Is On The Way” has lyrics that go: “Sometimes I wish you were dead and I’m not even joking/I’d put a gun to your head/And when your world crashes down, you’ll see it’s not so funny/What will you say to the press”.

For my money, this is one of the year’s best albums and I hope this isn’t the end for Sixx:A.M. (though I doubt it is). Nikki says he’s already working on Book #3 so I’m sure we can expect a new album at that time! If you were into The Heroin Diaries, you’ll be into This Is Gonna Hurt.

Highlights: “This Is Gonna Hurt”, “Lies Of The Beautiful People”, “Live Forever”, “Sure Feels Right”, “Help Is On The Way”, “Skin”

http://sixxammusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sixxammusic

Buy ‘This Is Gonna Hurt’ from Amazon.com!

SIXX:A.M. – The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack

Sixx:A.M. – The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack (2007, Eleven Seven Music)

1. “X-Mas in Hell” … 2:10
2. “Van Nuys” … 3:52
3. “Life is Beautiful” … 3:35
4. “Pray for Me” … 4:14
5. “Tomorrow” … 4:05
6. “Accidents Can Happen” … 4:07
7. “Intermission” … 2:20
8. “Dead Man’s Ballet” … 5:25
9. “Heart Failure” … 4:58
10. “Girl With Golden Eyes” … 4:20
11. “Courtesy Call” … 4:41
12. “Permission” … 4:14
13. “Life After Death” … 3:02

Band:
James Michael – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards, Drum Programming
DJ Ashba – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Nikki Sixx – Bass, Backing Vocals

Producer: Sixx:A.M.

I picked this one up the first day of its release just because it was Nikki Sixx and he’s been one of my favorite “rock stars” and song writers for a long time. Nikki has often dabbled in side projects (58, Brides of Destruction) so it was no surprise when it was announced that a “soundtrack” album would be coinciding with the release of his autobiography The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star. Each song represents a chapter in the book, and the book (if you couldn’t tell already by the title) documents Nikki’s drug problems and focuses on his life from December ’86 to December ’87.

This album could’ve easily been released and forgotten, something that only Crue fans would even have a passing interest in, but something really cool happened — the lead single “Life is Beautiful” took off at rock radio and eventually hit #2 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts and album sales currently sit at 200,000+! It’s always feels good to see good music appreciated and I was really happy for Nikki over the success of this album. As soon as I heard “Life is Beautiful”, I knew that if it actually was able to get some support and onto radio, it would be a hit. It’s the album’s best song and James Michael’s vocals soar (he sounds just like this live as well).

All acknowledgment doesn’t fall to Nikki though. Even though this album was based on his life and book, it’s very much a band project. Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba and James Michael (Sixx:A.M.) all worked together, co-producing and co-writing and the result is a modern hard rock album with touches of pop radio friendly songs (“Accidents Can Happen”). This is definitely NOT something similar to Crue, and that’s a good thing.

Some songs fall short with me, there’s kind of a twisted carnival sound to a few songs like “Intermission”, “Life After Death” and the opener “Xmas in Hell”. All feature Nikki Sixx narrating an entry from his diary and then it becomes like a demented version of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. So I don’t care much for those songs and then my other gripe is there too many ballads.

I was a little disappointed by this release because I think it tries to be too theatrical at times, but it is a decent enough modern rock release that shows a lot of promise for the follow up.

Highlights: “Life is Beautiful”, “Pray for Me”, “Tomorrow”, “Accidents Can Happen”, “Courtesy Call”

www.sixxammusic.com
www.myspace.com/sixxam

SCORPIONS – Humanity: Hour I


Scorpions – Humanity: Hour I (2007, Sony BMG Music)

Track Listing:
1. “Hour 1” .. 3:26
2. “The Game of Life” … 4:04
3. “We Were Born to Fly” … 3:59
4. “The Future Never Dies” … 4:03
5. “You’re Lovin’ Me to Death ” … 3:15
6. “321” … 3:53
7. “Love Will Keep Us Alive” … 4:32
8. “We Will Rise Again” … 3:49
9. “Your Last Song” … 3:44
10. “Love Is War” … 3:20
11. “The Cross” … 4:29
12. “Humanity” … 5:34
BONUS TRACK
13. “Cold” … 3:52

Band:
Klaus Meine: Vocals
Matthias Jabs: Lead and Rhythm Guitar
Rudolf Schenker: Rhythm and Lead Guitar
Paweł Mąciwoda: Bass
James Kottak: Drums

Additional Musicians:
Billy Corgan – Vocals (“The Cross”)
John 5 – Guitar (“Hour I”)
Eric Bazilian – Guitar (“Love Will Keep Us Alive”)
Russ Irwin – Piano (“The Future Never Dies”)
Desmond Child – Backing Vocals
James Michael – Backing Vocals
Jeanette Olsson – Backing Vocals
Jason Paige – Backing Vocals

Produced by: Desmond Child & James Michael

This was my favorite release of 2007. Scorpions are one of my favorite bands, and after 2004’s awesome Unbreakable, I was pumped up for this one. Then I heard the samples online. It’s a bit of a departure from the typical Scorpions sound. A lot of the songs are slow (well, slower than what I was expecting) and plodding, but ended up growing on me.

Unbreakable brought the band’s sound back to their glorious 80s heyday, but Humanity: Hour 1 gives the band a bit of a modern hard rock/metal sound. It’s still Scorpions though. Yeah, the songs are a little darker and lyric matter is different (no more sex songs, says Klaus Meine!), but Klaus doesn’t try to change his singing to fit with the times and songs like “The Game of Life”, “We Were Born to Fly”, You’re Lovin’ Me to Death” and “321” should make most Scorpions fans happy.

This album got pretty good reviews, but I’ve seen a lot of Scorpions fan tear it down because of the band’s attempt to get more serious and grow. I don’t have a problem with the “serious” Scorpions or the silly perverted version. I applaud them for going in a different direction and for making it work.

I waited for MONTHS to get this CD. I’m not an import kinda guy and any album is readily available online for free if you know where to look, but I liked to support bands I’m a fan of so I waited. And waited. And waited. I couldn’t really get a confirmed US release, because I think it was initially May/June, but that turned out to only be the Europe release. FINALLY, the US got it at the end of August and I picked it up at Best Buy. The Best Buy exclusive track, “Cold”, is actually one of my favorites from the album.

The credits are pretty impressive. It’s good to see Desmond Child co-writing/producing this album. I’ve always been a fan of his hard rock collaborations. Also, co-producing (with the occasional writing credit) is SIXX:AM vocalist James Michael (who I’m starting to have a lot of respect for with his legit rock credentials). John 5 and Billy Corgan even lended their talents to this album.

Highlights: It’s not my top pick of 2007 for no reason at all. I can’t find any filler here.

www.the-scorpions.com
www.myspace.com/officialscorpions

CRUE FEST – 07/15/08

Crue Fest featuring Motley Crue, Buckcherry, Papa Roach, SIXX:A.M., Trapt (07/15/08, DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan)

Yesterday’s show was a blast. If you’ve never been to DTE, it’s a pavilion that seats 15,000 and some odd change (about 8,000 of that are lawn seats) out in a nice quiet place called Clarkston, Michigan. Despite Detroit being miles away, no music acts ever play Clarkston when they’re at DTE, they play Detroit. It’s more prestigious sounding that way. A pretty nice & clean outdoor place, with tons of shops inside the gates to blow your money on heavily overpriced beer, margarita, snow cones, merchandise, mini-fans, and pizza. Just like Disney World!

Read the rest of this entry

On With the Show

Tomorrow’s the big day! I’ll be outta here around noon and be making my way to Detroit Rock City to see Crue Fest! Wish me luck and pray I don’t get killed/mugged in our nation’s most crime-infested city!

MOTLEY CRUE – Saints of Los Angeles

 

 

 

 

 

Motley Crue – Saints of Los Angeles [Best Buy Exclusive DVD Limited Edition] (2008, Motley Records)

Track Listing:
1. “L.A.M.F.” … 1:21
2. “Face Down in the Dirt” … 3:44
3. “What’s It Gonna Take” … 3:45
4. “Down at the Whisky” … 3:50
5. “Saints of Los Angeles” … 3:40
6. “MF of the Year” … 3:55
7. “The Animal in Me” … 4:16
8. “Welcome to the Machine” … 3:00
9. “Just Another Psycho” … 3:36
10. “Chicks=Trouble” … 3:13
11. “This Ain’t a Love Song” … 3:25
12. “White Trash Circus” … 2:51
13. “Goin’ out Swingin'” … 3:27

Best Buy Exclusive Bonus DVD
1. “Saints of Los Angeles” Music Video
2. Crue Fest Press Conference
3. “Kickstart My Heart” live performance
4. “Saints of Los Angeles” live performance

Band:
Vince Neil – Vocals
Mick Mars – Guitar
Nikki Sixx – Bass
Tommy Lee – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Josh Todd – Gang Vocals
Jacoby Shaddix – Gang Vocals
Chris Taylor Brown – Gang Vocals
James Michael – Backing/Gang Vocals, Keyboards
Marty Frederikson – Backing Vocals
Melissa Harding – Backing Vocals

Produced by: James Michael
Co-Produced by: Nikki Sixx & DJ Ashba

When Motley said they were working on NEW material, I was ecstatic. I loved the new stuff, “Sick Love Song” and “If I Die Tomorrow”, they added onto the Red, White & Crue compilation. I thought they were a perfect mix of the classic Motley sound and modern hard rock, even if some Motley fans didn’t care for’em. I remember seeing them on the Carnival of Sin tour and the crowd just sitting on their hands when they played those songs. So, I was thinking we’d get an album full of sick love songs, but Motley has gone back to their roots with this album and is delivering good old-fashioned Motley hard rock.

Even in anticipation, I was kinda worried, because their last studio album, 2000’s New Tattoo fell flat with me. But SOLA definitely has bite and definitely sounds like Motley, despite the fact that Nikki’s side project, SIXX:AM, was pretty much the creative force behind it (James Michael & DJ Ashba produced and had a hand in writing every song alongside Nikki). Veteran rock songwriter/producer Marti Frederikson had a heavy hand in the songwriting as well, and Mick did also, to a lesser extent. At least, they didn’t bring Bob Rock back. He neutered Metallica for a decade and nearly did the same with Motley in 1994!

Anyway, song samples posted on Amazon.com a few weeks back didn’t give me much hope, but I don’t know what I  was thinking at the time, because the album rocks and is one of 2008’s best releases. “Saint of Los Angeles” is my favorite track and is classic Motley without any modern influences. It also features “gang vocals” from Crue Fest-mates James Michael (SIXX:AM) Josh Todd (Buckcherry), Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach) and Chris Taylor Brown (Trapt). On the flipside, “The Animal in Me” screams modern rock radio to me, but is very good, and should be their next single. Nikki’s always had a good ear for writing catchy modern hard rock songs (listen to Saliva’s “Rest In Pieces” and tell me I’m lying!).

I picked up the Best Buy limited edition, but the only difference is there’s a bonus DVD, but it’s pretty cool. There’s a music video for “SOLA”, their Crue Fest press conference in full and two songs they performed live at the press conference. Plus, photo stills of the band and a bunchload of excerpts from their band autobiography, “The Dirt”.

Highlights: “What’s It Gonna Take”, “Down at the Whisky”, “Saints of Los Angeles”, “MF of the Year”, “The Animal in Me”, “This Ain’t a Love Song”, “Goin’ out Swingin'”.

www.motley.com
www.myspace.com/motleycrue

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