Thursday · Southgate House
The latest music scene to capture the imagination of American listeners isn't in America -- it's emanating from the Great White North. Vancouver, British Columbia, is a current hotbed of Rock, spawning The New Pornographers and their AltPop satellites (Destroyer, Neko Case, Immaculate Machine) and other like-minded entities. Further to the left on the BC Rock continuum are the new Psychedelic Rock bands as typified by the monolithic Black Sabbath-meets-Pink Floyd roar of Black Mountain and their stoner, slab-of-sound compatriots. Ladyhawk stands firmly in that camp, with a more stripped back, less intricate approach, as the Vancouver-based quartet offers a triangulation between the howl of Dinosaur Jr., the dustily mesmerizing psychedelia of Crazy Horse and the quiet power of The Band.
Ladyhawk came together three years ago when four friends -- guitarist/vocalist Duffy Driediger, lead guitarist/vocalist Darcy Hancock, bassist/vocalist Sean Hawryluk, drummer/vocalist Ryan Peters -- from nearby Kelowna, B.C., relocated to Vancouver, formed the band and began making an impact on the scene. Through fellow scenesters Black Mountain, the band came to the attention of Bloomington, Indiana's Jagjaguwar Records, who insisted that Ladyhawk re-record their debut album, which had been recorded live from the studio floor for a sound that captured their visceral live quality but none of the sonic diversity that makes for an interesting album.
Ladyhawk's stunning 10-song debut was released last summer to widespread acclaim. That re-recording process meant that the band had plenty of new material freshly written, resulting in a six-track EP, Fight for Anarchy.
Ladyhawk has already battled several rumors about their membership, among them that they are part of the Black Mountain Army collective (despite the appearance of much of the band on Ladyhawk's debut) and the inexplicable gossip that the band contained an actual member of Dinosaur Jr. The good news is that people are talking about Ladyhawk and, even if the chatter is sometimes a bit misinformed, the talk is always good.
ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO WITH WIST
Friday · Top Cat's
Metal guitarist Alex Skolnick's '80s/'90s acclaim, his myriad musical projects, his current role fronting his own Jazz trio (now touring behind their latest album, Last Day in Paradise) and his unlikely return to the Metal world that spotlighted him over a quarter century ago have all displayed a range that most guitarists could barely imagine and rarely achieve.
"I didn't really have an intent," says Skolnick. "I just dropped all pre-conceived notions about what I should do and what my career should be and I just did what I wanted to do."
Skolnick's journey began with a KISS obsession at 9, which inspired him to learn guitar. At 16, he joined a Thrash band which eventually morphed into the Metal juggernaut Testament, where Skolnick remained for nine years, notching five albums, an unending parade of tours and the respect of fans and peers alike.
At age 20, Skolnick saw a television performance of Miles Davis' electric Jazz band and was transfixed. Although he remained in a Metal context for several years -- with Testament and then briefly Savatage -- Skolnick's love of Jazz grew exponentially.
After Savatage, Skolnick pursued several musical directions, including Funk (Skol-Patrol) and Prog (Attention Deficit), among others. Eventually, Skolnick moved to New York City to earn a degree from New School University's Jazz program, which he completed in 2001. While at NSU, Skolnick and fellow student/drummer Matt Zebroski began collaborating on homework assignments, ultimately hatching the concept of reworking the Hard Rock/Metal masterpieces of their youth in a traditional Jazz format, forming the Alex Skolnick Trio (with original stand-up bassist John Davis) and releasing Goodbye to Romance: Standards for a New Generation, featuring straight Jazz arrangements of heavy classics like Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" and KISS' "Detroit Rock City."
Skolnick expected his Metal-to-Jazz experiment to be greeted with skepticism but GTR was praised by Jazz (and non-Jazz) publications and attracted fans from both musical camps. By the time of the Trio's sophomore album, Transformation, Skolnick had welcomed a new bassist, Nathan Peck, and signed to Magnatude, an imprint of Metal indie Magna Carta. Skolnick has since joined the holiday spectacular Trans-Siberian Orchestra and the Broadway production of Jekyll and Hyde as guitarist, scored video games and television shows and reunited with Testament for a series of shows and live recordings in 2005 (they're writing songs for a new studio album). In the midst of all this activity, Skolnick began thinking about his goals for the third Trio album, Last Day in Paradise.
"I wanted it to be more experimental," says Skolnick. "I didn't want it to be Fusion. I do like a lot of the original music that was considered Fusion, but I'm much more a fan of acoustic, straight-ahead Jazz. I'm actually more conservative in my Jazz listening than most people would think. So I wanted to bring a little of my Rock influence without it being a Fusion record. And compositionally, it's music that I like to listen to." (BB)
Monday · Madison Theater
It hardly seems possible that Deftones are on the verge of their 20th anniversary as a band. It seems even more unlikely that the band has managed to consistently maintain an incredible level of Trip Hop/Rock/Pop experimentation and artistry within their core Metal sound throughout their nearly two decade history.
Deftones began in Sacramento, Calif., in 1988 when vocalist Chino Moreno tried out for a garage band started by guitarist Stephen Carpenter, who had purchased recording gear from an insurance settlement. Drummer Abe Cunningham had sporadically played with the fledgling band and was finally persuaded to join fulltime; Carpenter's skateboarding buddy Chi Cheng signed on as bassist. In the early '90s, they became fixtures on the Sacramento scene and became friends with Korn, who they toured with regularly. The band recorded and sold home demos at shows until they signed with Madonna's Maverick Records in 1994 and recorded their 1995 gold-selling debut, Adrenaline.
Deftones' sophomore album, 1997's Around the Fur, offered a the hits "My Own Summer (Shove It)" and "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)"; the ethereal acoustic remix of the latter influenced Moreno to incorporate softer elements in the band's sound and led him to found his side project, Team Sleep. With their third album, 2000's White Pony, Deftones became a major force in music, as the album sold over a million copies.
In 2003, the band released their eponymous fourth album, then, as a stopgap measure, released B-Sides & Rarities two years later. After settling production issues (veteran Bob Ezrin produced the music, former Far guitarist Shaun Lopez produced the vocals), Deftones finally released Saturday Night Wrist last October to general acclaim but, like the rest of the industry, lessened sales.
The Deftones' experience is enhanced in the live setting, where their amazing diversity and range absolutely explode on stage. Time has not diminished Deftones' energy or enthusiasm, it has merely sharpened their skills. (BB)