sr:Mutoid Man – Reggies (150905)

150904 - Mutoid Man - Reggies: Photato by Drumnmike
150905 – Mutoid Man – before i moved to the middle of the floor – Reggies: Photato by Drumnmike

“It’s that drummer from Converge and the dude from Cave In” Aaron told me when he first heard about the band. “You’d really dig them.””i bet, it already sounds like it” I replied.  My exposure to Cave In has been brief, a few albums here and there but never to the point of obsession for a period of time.

Since being on the scene only 2 years now Mutoid Man has accomplished a lot.  In 2013 they released their amazing 15 min release Helium Head.  The first song Gnarcissist is a ripper.  As an introduction to a band it’s amazing.  It’s tight, it’s technical, it’s fast, it’s fun, it works.  It’s probably my favorite song on the release but that only speaks to how good that track is.

After ‘wearing out’ Helium Head I was nervous they would pull a battles on me. After a few questionable days, I cracked and finally listened to their newest release, Bleeder.  It’s great.  They took what they did for Helium Head and expanded it over 30 minutes.  The songs continue in the same intensity as Helium, but continue exploring ability of Ben to come up with an a complimentary beat to emphasize the rhythm of the guitar.

The songs are catchy and fun, but they really take a few listens to truly capture the grooves and rhythms the band gets involved in.  I’d be impressed not knowing this, but it’s valid enough to mention drummer Ben Koller and Stephen Brodsky have jammed together in the former’s current powerhouse group Converge and in Stephen’s famed project Cave In.  The music shows that these grooves could be difficult for some musicians to pull off together but not these guys.

And the show made it that much more enjoyable to watch such potentially complicated songs be played with such ease and humor, while all wearing black shirts.  They started with Bridgeburner and the crowd was into it.  The band was loving the show.  Stephen was all smiles, wide eyed, making a connection with the crowd and making a decision to connect with the band during the set. There were multiple moments at which I laughed out loud (loled) at his jokes.

They played the first 4 songs from Bridgeburner before making their way over to the Helium Head material, starting with the 2nd track and making their way through the rest of the release.

Stephen had a way of sing-introducing the songs before they played them. He’d typically use some mid song banter/story to lead into the song title lyrics.  Sometimes he’d sing it, other times he’d yell it, to match the aggression at the beginning of the song.

The band seemed to have a lot of inside jokes they were playing on, as the members would continually flip the other members off and vice versa.  Ben continuously would slam his drum stick to his floor tom in an attempt to make the stick fly to the balcony in the Reggie’s Rock room above the stage.

Drumming fans and fans of thrashy sludgey heavier punk music would enjoy the releases and the live shows.  Watching Ben Koller drum is always a bad ass thing for any fan of drum to watch.  He enjoys playing and has some incredible speed which he puts to comprehensive beats for all the music he plays. Although it was somewhat shocking because of how heavy the band is but the enjoyment they all shared together also shows to the longevity of being able to have a project that you can do with your friends but still put out some really great music.

Shortly after they left the stage the gear was still there and the lights were somewhat at ‘stage level’.  Ben walked on stage and said into the microphone “That’s all the shit we know. we don’t know any other songs.  Have a good night”. (I’m misquoting my quotes, i don’t remember exactly what was said).

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album review:Chick Corea Elektric Band – The Chick Corea Elektric Band

Buy The Chick Corea Elektric Band | Listen here

This is a little drum dumb assness for ya but I was thinking that it was Dennis Chambers playing drums on this album.  Now before you go any further you can know that it’s Dave Weckl. My bad.

The biggest problems with album like this is if you don’t know what to expect, they can be written off as a dated recording due to the very ‘out there’ sounds they used.  Truth. But being released in 1986 a lot of this stuff was ahead of it’s time, and without a lot of time to actually digest how certain sounds sound, being in the tunnel of awesome it’s difficult to see what’s ‘too electronic drums’ or ‘too flaming guitar solo’ or ‘too cheesy keyboard’ sounds.  In that same token, it’s what makes the music that much more remarkable.  It’s the experimentation with the sounds with some phenomenal players. When it works it’s a very nice result.

My favorite track on this album is ‘Got a Match?‘.  When hearing this phrase I immediately think of the Beavis & Butthead movie, and now that you do too we can move on to the album.

Although Rumble is somewhat uptempo and City Gate has it’s moments with some crazy drums in them, Got a Match? (see, how can you forget that scene?) is the first time the album let’s loose. The first time I heard this song I had to stop what I was doing to make sure I saved this track so I could listen to it bunch.  It starts with a really awesome, yet really subdued drumming on the high hat and snare with alternating ghost doubles and a melodious keyboard line.  After a short intro together the drums build adding some bass drum hits and the bass comes in.  The keyboard takes you on a little journey for a minute until they come back to that hook from the intro.  The beat this time includes some ride bell hits and a more complete build of the part. They meander for a bit then break for the drums to do their thing, come back for a hair then really letting the drums do their thing.  Some keys and bass get thrown in but if there was ever a song where the drum solo doesn’t feel just gratuitous and is a real part of the song this would be that song.  The beat on it’s own can be a solo for most drummers so the fact that it gets built up takes the song up that much further, while keeping the drums on track with the keyboard melody.  Before you know it the song is over and you need to listen again to make sure you heard that correctly.

Coming in just shy of an hour with 11 songs this album covers a lot of ground.  The electronic drum sounds and synth sounds get a workout throughout the album, but again as you’re coming into this stuff why wouldn’t you want to see how far you can explore it and see where it can go?

This album is further proof I have a long way to go to get over my ‘traditional’ jazz tastes and there are some amazing recordings out there that I’m excited to get involved with.

Buy The Chick Corea Elektric Band | Listen here

show review: Benny Greb, Steve Smith, Mike Mangini – Martyrs Chicago (150807)

150807 - Benny Greb - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 – Benny Greb – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

Out of all the Chicago venue’s that I’ve either played or watched a show this was the first time I was at Martyrs.  It’s a fairly small, or for higher selling point ‘intimate venue’, with tables and chairs setup in front of the stage for this show, with standing room surrounding the seating area.  There were actually 2 bars on each side of the place which made it very convenient.  There were 3 drum sets setup on stage and once Benny took the stage we moved to the other side of the venue to make sure he wasn’t blocked by the conveniently placed posts throughout the venue. There were maybe 20 women at the show, including the woman who sang.  Sadly I think they were just there with their boyfriends or husbands, like mine was.  There could be an opportunity to get more girls into drumming.

Benny Greb is mostly an educator in Germany, although he recently released the awesome album Moving Parts as a trio. After hearing that album I was pissed to find out he’s not a big touring dude so the chance to see/hear him at Martyrs as part of the drum night was awesome and dumb luck it happened so shortly after hearing about him.  The drummers chose the songs that they played with the bands for the evening.  Benny started with Remember the Time, then a song that I’ve never heard, something about putting your money into the gas tank, an amazing drum solo, I shot the Sherriff then Day Tripper. The drums are just a weird extension of this man and he just messes with odd timing on the slow and fast side and triplets walking around the fine line that is the steady beat.  His solo wasn’t just crazy rolls but a mix of awesome groove and then some crazy fills.  As I’m now listening to this song it’s not exactly what his solo was, but this gives you an idea how he solos. My biggest complaint is that he didn’t play longer.

150807 - Steve Smith Sticks - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 – Steve Smith sticks – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

As we were clapping for Benny Steve Smith walked up on stage and sat right next to the pole.  This was my view throughout the whole time he played as the venue was looking full at the other side. Steve’s position was funny when he’d play his right hand on the high hat and his left hand on the black snare just to the right of the pole.  I wish I would’ve gotten a picture of that.  Steve’s main credit for drumming is his early work with the band Journey from 1978 – 1985. Although that’s his most well known credit he’s really created a whole new life for himself with drumming since then as a session player, jazz player, educator, etc. Modern Drummer magazine voted him all around best drummer 5 years in a row.  Steve’s set consisted of jazz pieces, first a song with sticks, then with brushes,then back to sticks.  Eventually he picked up an African style drum and played with his hands on the drum and the set.  For his last song he started scatting into his microphone, mimicking drum fills and beats. Then he started playing set along to this.  This was insane.  His scatting was better than some playing that I’ve heard and I didn’t hear any word trip ups in what he was doing, and he was flying through it.  It was awesome.

150807 Mike Mangini - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 Mike Mangini – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

As we were clapping for Steve Mike Mangini took the stage.  He’s the current drummer for prog band Dream Theater and during 2002 – 2005 set 5 worlds fastest drummer records. He started smoothly leading into Stevie Wonders ‘Superstition’, followed by a brief guitar lick to lead into You don’t have to be rich.  He played Higher Learning with an extending ending including riffing back and forth between bass, keys and drums.  Through out his playing he mostly focused on his groove, which was more straight than swing and showcasing his double bass/fast hand fills.  At one point he was doing a single handed roll which was insanely fast while he accented over the toms with his right hand.  It was an awesome display.  As he was finishing up Steve and Benny were next to the stage and I had a feeling what would happen next.

150807 Greb, Mangini and Smith - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 Greb, Mangini and Smith – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

When the band finished their tune they walked to the side of the stage and Steve and Benny took place at their drum kits.  Steve started scatting again and all 3 drummers played along.  They each played a brief solo throughout the short performance and it was really cool to see the 3 distinct styles playing along to Steve’s voice.

When they finished their tune they started a simple rhythm on the snare drum, and Dave Weckl and Jojo Meyer walked onto the stage.  They setup in a line from right to left of Mike Mangini, Steve Smith, Dave Weckl, Benny Greb and Jojo Meyer each with a snare drum in front of them, and a sideways bass drum in between Jojo and Benny.  The band joined them briefly for a rendition of When the Saints go Marching in. Then the band stopped to let the drummer play off of each other starting with an 8 bar snare beat from Mike on down the line.  A few times Benny was caught up in the fun and missed his starting point but he quickly caught it and it was a humorous instance between everyone.

150807 Meyer, Greb, Weckly, Smith and Mangini - Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike
150807 Meyer, Greb, Weckly, Smith and Mangini – Martyrs: Photato by Drumnmike

It was awesome to watch the masters play off of each others style and see the fun the drum community can have with each other.  Each style is slightly different and each drummer brought their unique style to the snare drum.  I’m excited for the 2nd show on Tuesday!

I am sad that Benny didn’t come out of the back as I would’ve loved to shake his hand and get a selfie.  Such is life, it was still awesome.

album review: Squarepusher – Burningn’n Tree

Buy Squarepusher – Burningn’n Tree | listen to Squarepusher – Burningn’n Tree

And now for something kind of different.

Although this came out in 1997 it was referred to me almost a year ago when Still Machine was having our breakup night chat.  I still love those guys.  I also just found out when I was going to link to the page that they put up the album with 2 listenable songs on bandcamp.  Not sure if I missed that a while ago but if you’re curious in some non-metal-mike drumming check it out.  I’m curious to know what you think!

Being that this is one of his earlier releases there’s also a different feel to the music.  If you look at his spotify artist page or hear his newer albums you can see/hear what almost 2 decades of a small underground project can turn into when EDM is now on the main stage and played at festivals with hundreds of thousands of people in attendance.  This is a review of his earlier material.

Having now looked it up, this album is a compilation of the 2 previously made EP’s.  Although this video states the Amen Break, one of the most famous sampled drum beats ever is used on his song Vic Acid. However I swear it’s used on the opening track and even one of the later songs on this release as well. Heck, he might have even used the samples to piece together the drum sounds for most of these tracks.

Drum and Bass has been a style of music I’ve always enjoyed but have never been able to fully explore and admittedly my knowledge on the subject is fairly small.  However, I do enjoy this release for what it is. Finding out that this is a combination of some of his earlier works makes me appreciate the release even more as I feel like I’m going through that initial journey of audio exploration with him. Being an early in his career release it has the minimalist feel, trying not to overwhelm himself with too much going on at once and letting the drums breathe.

The drumming is the most constant throughout the release with keyboard and bass accompanying the beats with a few sporadic sounds and noises to add extra dimensions.  The keyboard and bass parts compliment the songs and you can feel that drums are his first instrument and he builds the melodies and bass truly around the beats, instead of the beats around the instruments.  Being a drummer I appreciate someone giving drums the first love instead of vice versa.

For those not too familiar with the Drum and Bass genre this is a good start to get your feet wet.  It could easily go on a Jazz or party playlist and could also be used at the gym or on a running playlist.

Buy Squarepusher – Burningn’n Tree | listen to Squarepusher – Burningn’n Tree

album review: Benny Greb – Moving Parts

Buy Moving Parts here | Listen to Moving Parts here

Benny Greb is another drummer that I heard about via Drumeo through their free educational videos. Each week they seem to get an even cooler drummer onto their show/site and they do a great job having their finger on the pulse of some really talented drummers.

Like Snarky Puppy and Mark Guiliana, this is one of the newer dudes, at least that I’ve heard about, that is doing some amazing stuff and making me eat my words with the type of jazz that’s going on lately.  It’s great and I love eating my words on this subject.

Where drumeo has their finger on the pulse I’m definitely the one that’s out of date.  Scrolling through product lists for Benny he has a Meinl Cymbal Seta Practice Pad, Promark Hickory 5BG Wood Tip drumsticks and most recently his 2ND(!!) dvd the Art and Science of Groove. I need to pay closer attention to the world of drumming. (and full disclosure yes I’m an Amazon affiliate)

Either way, his stuff, starting with the Drumeo video, is great and will easily get you hooked on his playing.  He’ll do some fairly interesting fills but his grooves are nice and sweet.  He lays back in the pocket but provides a unique style to the beats.

Moving onto the CD it’s a laid back smooth jazz style recording with drums, keyboard and guitar.  It’s airy yet direct with the melodies and grooves.  Benny is of course the standout, but I’m probably biased.  Tracks like Bunker show a more ‘out there’ and loose Benny, but it’s never over the top.

A common theme throughout the recordings are his ability to walk a fine line between playing the tempo straight, then incorporating triplets or other off tempo style feels to the playing, whether playing in front or behind the beat.  It’s a fun way to hear how he plays off the beat(s).  All the songs can be used as examples of what he does Barking does a great job of using a typical beat but spicing it up to a point that it’s familiar, but clearly something he’s made his own.

The album works as a whole and an educational piece of drumming music.  It could easily fit on a jazz or a sunday playlist with a few songs able to fit on a party or upbeat playlist. For drum students it’s a great album to see what’s possible with some traditional instruments and an open playing style.  For other instruments it’s great to hear what can happen with the drums to be able to still play fluidly with some uncommon types of playing.

And to briefly brag, this Friday I’ll be seeing Benny as part of Vic’s Drum Shop all-star drum show at Martyrs in Chicago.  Needless to say I’m pumped. But in the meantime I’m off to practice drums.

Buy Moving Parts here | Listen to Moving Parts here