Love Letter – Cobalt’s Gin

I distinctly remember where I heard Radiohead’s Kid A for the first time. It was on a road trip, driving with my parents and siblings to Yellowstone National Park. The mostly desolate and flat landscape surrounding most of our seemingly interminable drive from Colorado and through some of the most…

Love Letter – Playing Prog Rock Fucking Loud

You know the part: the drums, thick and resonating, pick up pace, the bass licks in anticipation of the crescendo and all of a sudden the synths are there, Hammond goodness washing over the soaring guitar parts as the vocals explode into a high note. This structure of “ensemble buildup”, where the entire band join forces to form the climax of a track, is a staple of many genres but progressive rock has always been the best at it. King Crimson’s “Starless”, Yes’s “Heart of the Sunrise”, Wishbone Ash’s “Warrior” (containing one of the world’s most famous and most forgotten solos), Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and many, many other tracks and albums come to mind. Even younger bands operating today and paying homage to the style (like Malady, Wobbler, Witchcraft and more) adopt the prominence of the climax and full band collaboration.

Love Letter – Skid Row’s “I Remember You”

This is a love letter about a love song. The glam metal explosion yielded more than its fair share of sappy power ballads, but one reigns above them all. The Achilles heel of the power ballad is its maddening tendency to mire in cliché — but, paradoxically, “I Remember You” manages to subvert kitsch and bludgeon cliché through its absolute screaming dedication to its own cliché.

Love Letter – Iron Maiden’s Powerslave

The year is 1984 and Iron Maiden are in an interesting position. Hot off the tails of two great releases and their first major tour, the band are starting to feel the pressures and joys of success at the same time. This is a crucible in which many bands have faltered, unable to reproduce the original sound which garnered them their first modicums of recognition. Line-ups shake, creative differences being to tear at the structure of the sound, as each member brings forth their own vision as to what the future should contain. In this situation, there were many divergent paths down which Iron Maiden’s story could have gone; they had already faced several major line-up changes and their future was anything but secure. They could have easily broken up or lost track of what made their first albums work.

But, instead, they made Powerslave.

Love Letter – Himsa

It’s hard to believe that there was a time before the steady stream of blasé lyric videos, but at the turn of the millennium, music video purveyor MTV had to “bring back” the music video. The artform was essentially replaced by trashy reality television and cartoons by the late 90s, but eventually came MTV2 – a quality sequel (well, for a few years) nobody really deserved. So I guess it only made sense that they also resurrected their metalhead favorite from the 80s and 90s soon thereafter – Headbangers Ball. After all, this era had a ton to offer. The NWOAHM movement was all the rage, metalcore was hitting its stride, and melodeath was pretty much the coolest shit ever. Given that the combo of Kazaa and my dial-up setup wasn’t doing me any good – true story: I waited days (plural) to download Meshuggah’s Chaosphere only to find out that some jerk just relabeled of Neurotica tracks (some truly evil bastards out there), this couldn’t have been better timing for a dude who had recently gotten his license and began to fall in love with hanging out at the record store – the internet, for me, sucked for digging up new tunes.