The Flaming Lips – American Head

I have a long history with The Flaming Lips dating back to the late 90’s shows in support of their 1st masterpiece, The Soft Bulletin. I’d previously written them off, firmly convinced they weren’t cool. What can I say, I was pretty damn snobby in my youth. I was wrong. Anyway – so began a 21-year (and counting) love affair with all things ‘Lips. The last time I saw the band live was a true spectacle in support of 2017’s Oczy Mlody.

The Paramount in Seattle is a larger venue, typically the largest arena a band will play if they aren’t playing a stadium show. The show was sold out and was a standing room only type deal. I found myself talking with a group of younger (than me) women who were there because of the Miley Cyrus overlap. An unusual scenario, to be sure, but I found myself explaining the history of the band, why I love them, and how their willingness to experiment resulted in their association with Miley Cyrus. A bodyguard came by, asked the group if I was with them – they said yes – and we were whisked down to the front of the stage, in the place typically inhabited by photographers. I got to watch the band entertain a sold-out crowd from a unique perspective. It was one of the stranger experiences of my Seattle concert going adventures, and one that I loved. But now it leads to that dreaded question – what comes next?

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Metallica – S&M2

It isn’t easy being a Metallica fan – ride or die. For every fan who loves the latest record, there are a loud contingent of fans who will scream “Only the 80’s albums!”. Or even more specific, “Only the Cliff Burton years!”. So, it goes, so it goes. As for me, I think there are things to appreciate in each Metallica album – even Lulu, their oft derided 2011 collaboration with the iconic Lou Reed. In fact, the 2017 show I saw in Seattle was one of the best stadium shows I’ve ever seen – family friendly even, if you can believe that. We aren’t in 1986 anymore, fellas. They are – to quote Grand Funk Railroad – an American band. And perhaps history will view them as one of the most successful bands in history. They’ve long since transcended the heavy metal tag.

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A.M. Mills – Angel Eyes

Moving from Washington State back to Pennsylvania after almost 2 decades was a transition that was jarring in many ways. Add in the stress of moving cross country during the worst pandemic in 100 years, you can imagine that I turned to music for solace. One of the finest records that has been on repeat has been Angel Eyes by A.M. Mills (disclosure: I played trombone with band founder Drew Mills throughout middle school). The album gave me a sense of nostalgia – sounds that wouldn’t sound out of place on a David Lynch soundtrack as filtered through a Philadelphia sensibility. Basically, where I was in life when this album came out. Uncanny.

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Memory of a Melody – Burn Alive

Memory of a Melody hail from San Antonio, TX. A band that is true to its Texas metal roots, it also brings a melodic side to their crushing anthems, hence their name – it isn’t just a clever moniker. The early 00’s saw multiple releases from the band that steadily increased their profile before they went on hiatus. 2020 heralds the return of the band and their first release in over 7 years. The band’s full throttled attack features Mario Galdos on vocals, Wade Sigue and Roel Castillo on guitars, Joel Martinez on bass, and Robin Lopez on drums. Layers upon layers of instrumentation make for an appealing heavy metal brew. The new 3 song EP is a stunning return from the band and a reminder of what makes them so great.

The Burn Alive EP is a stunning return, 3 tracks of raw energy that is inspiring. It sounds heavy, melodic, and sounds wholly original. Mary Go Round kicks the proceedings off with a slice of prime metal, thrash alternating with emotional longing. A System of a Down vibe with this track which is only a good thing. Burn Alive is my favorite song on this release. It has a lighter vibe that harkens back to the balladry of the 80’s. Lyrically wise, this is a tale of longing and what could have been. I’d be remiss to not mention that the song has a killer guitar solo and again hints at thrash. The song ends in epic fashion, the music building an epic symphony of noise. Rise Up closes out the EP in a glorious wave of thrash metal. It is a fitting end to an exhilarating 3 track EP.

The Burn Alive EP is available here and comes highly recommended. It is a stunning debut and a sign of good things to come.

Verdict: A Welcome Return

For Fans of: System of a Down, Ozzy Osbourne, GNR, Skid Row, Lita Ford

Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man

Ozzy Osbourne returned in February with his first solo album in a decade and first batch of songs since the Black Sabbath tour document The End. That EP had a few studio leftovers from 2013’s comeback album 13 and a few live tracks from the tour. It didn’t feel like the last we’d hear from Ozzy at the time and I’m glad the Prince of Darkness has blessed us with Ordinary Man – his strongest solo album in years.

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