Excuses...


I know I haven't been updating much lately, but it's not another case of a writer running out of steam.

I've been travelling from New Zealand to Brazil and across America. I'm currently in Miami, but will be settling in Canada soon, so more updates to come then.



J Cole - Cole World: The Sideline Story review

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2/5 stars

J.Cole's much hyped debut on Jay-Z's RocNation label shows an awkward transition from lyrical mixtape MC to commercial pop-rapper. 
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Cole World lacks the raw energy of his digital releases, instead focusing on bland R&B tracks with tween star Trey Songz, and tepid dubstep with a tired Hova. 
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But it's not all bad. 
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Jermaine sprinkles a few great lines on each track, which are worth listening to despite sub-par choruses. 
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The North Carolina native touches on some interesting subjects, speaking from the viewpoint of a pregnant woman during Lost Ones and about daddy issues on Breakdown. 
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Dollar And A Dream III, Lights Please and Sideline Story are also rapped with enough conviction to satisfy hungry fans. 
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Cole World isn't another example of major labels crushing young talent to conform, but you can still pick up their poison touch. 
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By Jimmy Ness
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Scroobius Pip - Distraction Pieces review

4/5 stars

“You see a mouse trap, I see free cheese and a fucking challenge.” 

Scroobius Pip isn’t your typical rapper. The heavily accented Englishman delivers intellectual lyrics in a unique spoken style. His free-thinking wordplay covers a series of touchy subjects and is told with genuine conviction. 

Loud crunchy guitar and industrial beats create a flurry of intensity to back the lyrical blast, which has Pip almost shouting at times. 

The production is often jarring and lacks any real catchiness, but it’s the lyrical power that will have you picking up new pop culture references on each listen. 

Pip even sings an anti-war chant over a Soulja Boy cover (better than it sounds) and reaches a touching note with a Kate Bush tribute. The pace slows during the final tracks as Pip’s personal reflections bring the album to a powerful end. 

Distraction Pieces is not an easy listen, but it’s a worthy one.

By Jimmy Ness

Joe Satriani interview

Joe Satriani interview

Ask any guitar groupie who the six-string king is, and Joe Satriani might be the first name that comes out of their mouth. The 55-year-old virtuoso has spent decades training and working with the best guitarists in the world. 

It all began on the day Jimi Hendrix died. A young Joseph Satriani ran up to his football coach during a training session and immediately announced he was quitting to become a guitarist.


Was it the universe's way of replacing one genius with another?

Joe says he can only guess. "In my 14-year-old brain, I felt I was losing something that I couldn't live without. That wasting my time playing sports was something I had to stop, and I had to learn how to play music so I could replace what I was going to be missing. It was a very emotional moment."

The fretboard wizard soon discovered he was blessed with a natural skill. He was playing in a band and at high school events within eight months of first picking up a guitar.

Opeth - Heritage review

3/5 Stars

Heritage is a unique cosmic ride. Opeth might have ditched the roaring death vocals and replaced drum maestro Martin Lopez, but they still can't make a bad album. 

Instead of merely paying tribute to bands like Camel and King Crimson, the scruffy Swedes have fully embraced their prog-rock roots. Mikael Akerfeldt's clean singing sweeps perfectly over a mixture of 70s psychedelica and Opeth's signature sound. 

Acoustic guitars, flutes and pianos foster a murky folk atmosphere, which provide an eerie backdrop to poetic personal lyrics. Scattered heavy sections create an abrupt change of pace, but listeners waiting to hear mind-boggling drumming and technical fretwork will be disappointed. 

Heritage also loses some impact during the last three tracks which sound like an anticlimactic jam session. 

Despite not reaching the quality of their previous work, Opeth have pushed into a brave direction, one which might make you appreciate your dad's dusty old records. 

By Jimmy Ness

Elzhi interview

Elzhi interview

Jason Powers, better known as Elzhi, has dealt with the death of close friends and the break-up of his group Slum Village, but he still sounds as passionate as ever. 

“It’s more than getting paid. You can’t even put into words how it feels to put the mic out and have the crowd finish your sentence. I love to create. I love to write something, put it down in the studio and play it back. It’s a beautiful feeling man. I do it for the whole experience." 

Elzhi joined underground favourites Slum Village in 2001, a group often praised as the reincarnation of A Tribe Called Quest. Legendary producer J Dilla was partly responsible for bringing Elzhi into the group and helped him to get his first paid music gig. 

Sadly, Dilla passed away in 2006 after a battle with Lupus disease. Founding Slum Village member Baatin also died three years later due to mysterious circumstances surrounding a struggle with mental illness. 

After their 2010 release Villa Manifesto, Elzhi announced his departure from the group citing shady managers and underhanded labels. 

Despite a traumatic decade, he says he never considered quitting rap. “The way it affected my music, it made me want to get a lot more personal. You can’t just bottle those feelings up inside, so the only way I know how to get them out is express it through my music. It’s almost therapeutic for me. It’s almost like medicine.”

John Butler Trio


Saturday 7 May, The Frontroom, Wellington.
During the John Butler Trio’s stellar two and half hour performance, you couldn’t help but feel a little teary eyed at how good it was.
Beginning with Mystery Man, the group worked through their discography and also showed their political side on tracks like Revolution and Treat Yo Mama.
The concert reached several peaks with the audience singing their hardest during Better Than and Used To Get High, but it the instrumental Ocean that was truly magic. Butler showed he might be one of this generation’s best guitarists during the twelve minutes of fervent fingerpicking.
The Australian musician, who started his career busking on the streets of Freemantle, used a new guitar on almost every track as he switched between acoustic, slide and banjo. Band mates Byron Luiters and Nicky Bomba enjoyed themselves as they joked with the sold-out Wellington audience and Butler playfully criticised a fan who had requested Ocean for a second time.
Despite an annoying drunk trying his best to ruin the mood by shouting “Christchurch” during song breaks, the intimate atmosphere had everyone captivated.
Butler had the crowd under his command, even asking the audience for complete silence during a duet with his wife Danielle Caruana, who played in support act Mama Kin.
With so many adored tracks, it’s inevitable a few fan favourites such as Daniella or Media were missed, but those omissions aside, their lengthy set was near perfect.
This kind of talent raises the hairs on your neck.
By Jimmy Ness


Big Day Out 2011


Friday 21 Jan, Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland.
I’m proud to say this was my fifth Big Day Out, and despite the torrential downpour, it was one of my favourite years. Especially since I’ve made rookie mistakes other times such as not drinking enough water or drinking too much, causing me to be stuck in a mosh pit with the unbearable urge to pee.
Any who, here are the top picks from someone who spent literally nine hours in front of the orange and blue stages.
I Am Giant


After waiting two hours for my moment of glory, where I met Deftones (very friendly bunch), I headed over to the orange stage. Admittedly, I’m not really acquainted with this band or their music, but the audience were enjoying themselves and singing along word for word. Their sound was definitely reasonable from where I was standing, and even though I’m not a huge fan, they did a good job of holding down their spot on the main stage.



Rating: 3/5
Airbourne

This is another band I’m not really into because I think they do a little more than just pay tribute to AC/DC. You could say I think they are musically more suited to the pub than the stadium. But in terms of performance, they were definitely entertainers. From synchronised head-banging, throwing cans of Tui into the crowd and drinking cheap wine, these guys did all the right stuff. Mine and possibly everyone else’s favourite moment was lead guitarist Joel O’Keefe climbing dangerously high on nearby scaffolding to perform a solo as paramedics looked worried underneath.


Rating: 4/5
 




Deftones
While Airbourne were playing I could see the Deftones sound technician ripping his hair out trying to set things up. The main problem for them, and later for Iggy and the Stooges, was they couldn’t hear properly, which meant it was very hard to tune their sound. Chino’s vocals on the opening track were a bit off, causing him to shrug exasperatedly at the technicians and perform a masturbatory gesture with his microphone. However, despite my worst fears, this problem was soon fixed.


They didn’t play their White Pony classics and unsurprisingly, Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan didn’t come out for a surprise rendition of The Passenger. But there were still plenty of great tracks thanks to Minerva, Be Quiet and Drive, Rocket Skates and an acoustic performance of Sextape. Chino hit all the right notes and new bassist Sergio Vega seemed to be truly enjoying himself with his crazy facial expressions and constant grin. Sadly an hour slot meant it was all over too quickly.
Rating: 4/5. I shed a tear.
Lupe Fiasco
Firstly, I am a huge Lupe fan. I went to BDO in 2009 just to see him perform and meeting him is still one of my favourite musical memories. But as much as I love Lupe, this performance wasn’t great. After the show began with two false starts caused by sound problems, he performed a mixture of new songs like Beautiful Lasers and fan favourites Kick Push. Usually when an MC premiers a new song live the crowd goes insane, but Lupe played about five tracks from the album which seemed a few too many. The set list was also lacklustre, the crowd would be pumping and seconds later there would be a new track no one knew whether to dance or sway to. However, he did do a great job of playing hip-hop to an audience who had just seen Deftones and Airbourne.

Lupe later told the audience he had to wait a few seconds because his next song Go Go Gadget Flow was physically tiring, fair enough, but I vividly remember him launching right into the song last time. Hearing an artist tell you to wait before he does a high energy track just seems strange.
The show also featured a very average guitar solo which caused my bogan friend to look at me in disdain, and embarrassingly I had to agree, it was weak and unnecessary.
Mr Fiasco later apologised for any sound issues and said it was because it was the first show their Steppin Lasers tour. I also think he would have been better suited to the Boiler Room. He seemed to agree when he told TV3 he was annoyed he wasn’t playing there.
Rating: 3/5
Iggy and The Stooges
I had no idea what to expect for this one, but I was pleasantly surprised. Iggy took several trips down the front row and sounded great on Raw Power and I Wanna Be Your Dog. 
He was definitely his unpredictable self with the usual crazy rambling and dancing.
Returned guitarist James Williamson was obviously still trying to get to grips with his instrument, but the whole band played their guts out.
Iggy later invited fans to come up on the stage and join the band. I could see for some people who were hugging band members and dancing with Iggy, it was a truly amazing experience.
Rating: 4/5
John Butler Trio 
My feet were numb, I was damp and my ribs were being crushed by the crowd, but I loved this band and it’s a sin their set was only 50 minutes. Relative newcomers Nicky Bomba and Byron Luiters filled the shoes of Butler’s former band mates perfectly. Everyone was having a good time, with Butler and Luiters throwing a banana at one another while still managing to play and later, all three musicians having a go on Bomba’s drum set.

Finally, John Butler’s live rendition of the instrumental Ocean was seriously moving. One of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. Look it up.
Rating: 5/5
Rammstein
I couldn’t see Rammstein that clearly from where I was standing. But they sounded fantastic and their special effects were top-notch. The band barely spoke to the audience, which is often a bad thing but in this case it just added to their mystique.
Amazing show and I’m not usually a fan.
Rating: 5/5
Tool
Let me start with a little explanatory statement:
With the most albums sold per person worldwide, New Zealand is big on Tool, and I’m not afraid to admit, I’m no different.
I know some people don’t like them or their fans, because of the sense of elitism that comes with the music and I can fully understand that opinion, but you have to admit these guys are excellent musicians with a unique sound.
Their show was slightly toned down from 2007s Big Day Out performance, which featured surprise vocals from Serj Tankian on Sober.
However, it was still a masterpiece. Yes, I used the word masterpiece.



Third Eye and The Patient were surprise additions to a set list which also included Lateralus, Stinkfist, Schism and Vicarious. The crowd were singing songs word for word and Tool’s visual show was impressive as always.
I read a few reviews which said vocalist Maynard James Keenan messed up the words to Aenima, but I couldn’t tell. He’s a weird guy, he didn’t say a lot, and it ended as abruptly as it started, but that all adds to the mystery of Tool.
All three remaining members waved to the crowd after the show with Danny Carey throwing pieces of his drum kit into the audience and Adam Jones teasing us with his whole guitar.


As I gingerly walked away from Big Day Out soaking wet and stuffed, I knew the nine hour wait was worth it.

Rating: 5/5
By Jimmy Ness

Bronze Nazareth interview

Bronze Nazareth interview

We Do It Right magazine is lucky enough to be speaking with Detroit emcee and producer Bronze Nazareth for its very first interview. Bronze is known as an integral part of the new generation of the Wu Tang family and his production credits include Raekwon, Gza, Rza and Immortal technique, as well as having a solo career and being part of the group Wisemen. 

Firstly, Bronze thank you for taking the time out to answer our questions!! What’s up with you at the moment?

Right now I’m taking a break from mixing out the 60 Second Assassin album, also finishing an album for the 67 Mob, some cats from BK who linked up with me for their album. I’m also recording my solo School For The Blindman and working on a new Wisemen album. Quite busy at the moment. 

For those who don’t know about you, tell us a little about your background and how you first became affiliated with the Wu Tang family. Did Rza mentor you to an extent?

Born in Grand Rapids, MI, which we call Gun Rule. Got with Cilvaringz who led me to Rza. Rza heard some joints and gave me five minutes to speak to him, I splashed him with some heat and he asked me to join the Wu Elements! Moved to Detroit some years ago, and began diggin in with the Wu camp. Nah Rza didn’t really mentor me, more so he gave me a push, so I could take my car to the gas station and fuel it up myself. 

As far as producing records, what is your mindset before you go into the studio?

My mindset is on nothing really, I may be in a certain mood or feeling some way and that will drive what I’m looking to make. I don’t ‘try’ and make Wu sounding beats or anything, I sit at my board, and find something I like, chop it, play it, cut it, do whatever to get the sound I want to get out of it. I don’t go in trying to make a hit, or whatever, it’s simply me feeling the music.

I know that you don’t go by many aliases which is definitely a good thing. What does the name Bronze Nazareth mean exactly?

If you’ve ever seen the 18 Bronzemen movie, my name is symbolic of the struggle they went through to exit the temple and go into the real world. Nazareth is symbolic for the Prophetic Jesus of Nazareth, I see myself as a sort of prophet or soothsayer for my people who listen.. so really it’s all symbolic and can be compared to my modern struggles.

Anathallo interview

Anathallo interview

Anathallo’s latest album Floating World is one of my most treasured albums and being the nice guys (and gal) they are, they decided to let me interview multi-talented band member Andrew Dost.

Currently touring the U.S and Canada, Anathallo have been very busy, so I count myself lucky for the opportunity. Thanks man! 

Thank you for interviewing me!

You guys have a very “pretty” sound going on, I can often imagine you all holding hands and sitting around a family dinner whilst singing haha. 

That actually isn’t too far from the truth sometimes. Most of the band just moved to Chicago, and they’ve been having lots of pot-lucks and themed parties, so I think that’s pretty accurate. We definitely have our disagreements like any band, but things are the most fun, and creatively stimulating, when it feels like we’re a big family, so we try to nurture that atmosphere.

Ha, actually in all seriousness you have such a unique sound on the newest album. For a group with eight core members the creative process must be somewhat hectic, tell us about how you guys operate as a band. How does everything work as far as songwriting and coming up with such creative ideas?

It’s a pretty complex process, and one that I’d say is based more on relationships than on musical ideas. With so many people, with so many different ideas about where a song should go, a lot of the process is communication. We talk about everything, even ridiculous tiny details that we probably shouldn’t waste time with. But that’s the fun of it - everyone shares, we all throw ideas in, then we weed through and edit until we have something we can all agree on, something we all believe in and want to play night after night.

Novembre interview

Novembre interview

Novembre has always been a special band. From arctic landscapes to scorching deserts, the Italian four piece manage to convey an amazing sense of atmosphere without resorting to any of the dramatic cheesiness of a cliche metal band.

Firstly Carmelo, congratulations on another quality release.

Thanks a lot mate!

Was there a specific concept or idea you guys had in mind when writing songs for The Blue?

Not really. But thinking again, this blue/cobalt picture was always in my mind. Who knows how these things work.

Recently Novembre have been booked for a tour across the UK in support of Paradise Lost, what expectations do you have from the tour and most importantly are you excited!!!?

Absolutely. We are supporting the most important band of the post-Death Metal age, the founders of the Gothic-Doom scene. It’s such an honour for us. They’re A class people, really kind, down to Earth and helpful guys. Killer tour indeed!

Orphaned Land interview

Orphaned Land interview

 

Israeli progressive metal band Orphaned Land released their first concept album Mabool, in 2004. After receiving rave reviews for their unique style of Oriental and Middle Eastern music, they are now working on a follow-up with prog legend Steven Wilson.  

Guitarist Matti Svatizky spoke to me about Orphaned Land’s seventeen year history, beards and the Israeli metal scene. 

Hi Matti, it’s a pleasure to interview one of the creative minds from such a great band! Before we start, I must know what happened to your beard? I thought it was pretty glorious haha.

Hey man, what’s up? Thanks for the compliments, they’ll get you everywhere! Now for the more serious business, my beard! The truth is, in band photos it may have looked cool, but in real life it turned out to be a disaster, so I really had to let it go.

For those who are new to the band, can you describe what Orphaned Land is all about?

Well, visiting our website (orphaned-land.com) is a very good idea. You can really learn a lot from there, hear sample music, see my ex-beard, see the rest of the guys etc. But to sum up what we’re about, I’d say that we play metal with ethnic touch. The metal we play is influenced by the whole metal genre and has aspects such as thrash metal, heavy metal, death metal, doom metal, black metal, progressive metal and so on. However, our music is not inspired by metal only, but from other genres as well. We consider ourselves to be open-minded music lovers.

The Weeknd - Thursday review

4/5 Stars

The Weeknd's second album is a drug-fueled haze of sex and heartache. 

After releasing House of Balloons earlier this year, Abel Tesfaye went from obscurity to god-like worship. On Thursday, the Toronto based singer further broadens his soundscape. 

Instead of trying to repeat the success of his previous work, he ditches the catchy hooks and trash talking by revealing a more emotional side. His falsetto glides effortlessly over atmospheric production on tracks like 'Lonely Star' and 'Rolling Stone', and he briefly flirts with reggae during 'Heaven or Las Vegas'. 

Even Drake makes a worthy appearance, somehow managing not to bore the ears off the listener with his usual cheesiness. While it's not as instantly rewarding as its predecessor, Thursday has enough great moments to continue The Weekend's cult-like buzz. 

Look for the third part of this sacred R&B trilogy later in the year. 

By Jimmy Ness

Snoop Dogg - The Doggumentary review



3/5 Stars
The Doggumentary was originally planned as a sequel to Snoop's classic debut Doggystyle. This proved too much of an undertaking, and instead the album combines decent G-funk remakes with uninspired floor fillers. ‘Wonder What It Do’ and ‘The Way Life Used To Be’ have rare signs of ’90s greatness, with the Boss Dogg showing what was lost on his past three albums: funky beats and fun rhymes. However, the flaccid ‘Platinum’ and ‘Boom’ sound sadly like a 39-year-old cashing in on the ringtone generation with synth-heavy production and redundant collaborators. At 21 tracks, this disorderly record desperately needs quality control. Snoop hasn’t fallen off the wagon, but his embarrassing attempts at staying relevant may be his undoing. Imagine your dad crip-walking and talking like a thug – you get the idea.
By Jimmy Ness