Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Drive To Five: No need to Obsess, The Waiting Is Over

When last we met, we were attempting to cover the six nominees of #PlatVnyl4 for Comeback of The Year within the space of a single post. Forgive me sounding like Superman, but I think that is the level of folly I was dealing with. Our last three nominees really take you back in the time machine.

Obsessions, can be bad, but some can be good. Especially if they come from Sacred Warrior. The band, which began in 1985, and exhorted Christian headbangers everywhere to "love one another and do what the Master commands", was one of the Pioneers of Christian Melodic Metal and has often been compared to Queensryche or Iron Maiden. They had a very short but sweet run, as Obsessions came out only in 1991. They caught the reunion wave beginning in 2001 at the Cornerstone Festival. Not surprising since they were a Chi-town band and C-Stone, founded by Rez, was always more supportive of the Hard Rock scene. Still, it took almost a Dozen Years of Waiting in Darkness , but it was worth it. With Eli Prinson replacing founding vocalist Ray Parra without missing a beat, the band was nominated, in addition to comeback awards, for Metal Album and Song of The Year. Waiting in Silence won the latter.

Don't Wait for the Movie , it's not as good as the book. Unless the book is by J.R.R. Tolkien and the director of the movie is Peter Jackson. Then all bets are off. White Heart (or Whiteheart) goes all the way back to the early 80's (1982 to be exact, making it the 2nd oldest of the three). I would not consider them a Jesus Music Band, however. Personally I would cut off that label in 1979, making it an even decade. To mix Honeytree and Larry Norman with Whitecross and other metal bands is just plain wrong. Only Rez belongs in the group. The band lineup has always been in flux, and they are the answer to the question "What band did Inspirational Singer Steve Green Start out with?" Redemption was the title of their last studio album in 1997. There have been some hints of a reunion tour, but they never officially broke up, which makes things kind of tough in that respect. They only received comeback artist nominations.

The last nominee was also the winner, and the longest comeback. Sweet Comfort Band is from the Jesus Music Era, having formed back in 1977. They were Christian Music's first Jazz Band. By the time I began my career as a DJ in the Fall of 1984 they had broken up. Despite the death of Bass Player Kevin Thompson, the band reformed with the remaining original lineup and released "The Waiting Is Over " in 2013. It was an appropriate title, for the band stayed true to their original sound without too much tinkering, so it was a cool drink for fans. They won both comeback album and comeback artist. A sweep.

Next time we shall discuss the class of 2013, as we call the new artists. Until then, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Drive To Five: Comeback Kids Strike Back

As I reported in my previous post, #PlatVnyl4 was very encouraging due to all the growth that was everywhere.  With everything busting out all over, it makes us realize that the Platinum Vinyl Awards is going to be around for quite a while, and maybe one day we will have a real ceremony in a small municipal auditorium. Hey, the Bible says not to despise small beginnings.

The biggest evidence of growth was the Comeback Award, which grew to two awards. Comeback Artist, and Comeback Album. And there were SIX NOMINEES!! Rock and Roll may be dead out in the mainstream, but people are coming back to Christian Music in droves. Plus five out of the six nominated bands also released an album during the time frame, so that gave us an opportunity for comeback album as well.

Of the six nominated bands, none was more surprising than Audio Adrenaline. Due to the failing vocals of Mark Stuart the band decided to disband rather than seek a new vocalist in 2007. Five years later they realized their name was Audio Adrenaline and not, say, the Mark Stuart Band, and got a new lead vocalist. Actually they got more than that as Will McGinniss was the only remaining member of the original band. Lead vocals were taken over, in a very surprising move, by former DC Talk crooner Kevin Max. Max's "Shimmering Vocals" were quite unlike that of Rock Screamer Stuart, and so a change was in order. The band was rebuilt around Max and the style shifted from Rock to Alternative. The resulting album, dubbed Kings & Queens [+video] , wound up being pure platinum. They also landed 8 nominations. It was not to be enough, however, to reign at the podium. The band was shut out. Sometimes disappointment can be very tough to live down. They ditched Max, and have gone through two lead singers since: Josh Engler of Abandon and now Adam Agee of Stellar Kart. You can read my opinion of the current band by clicking on the link. Suffice it to say, No. Time to go before you wreck your image.

Our second nominated band, Big Tent Revival, had been out of the spotlight a bit longer, right after their Amplifier broke in 1998. At the time the band consisted of David Alan, Randy Williams, Steve Wiggins, Spence Smith and Rick Heil, asked "What Would Jesus Do?" and the answer was apparently to retire. The band reformed after a dozen years or so, and Spence Smith and Steve Wiggins only remain of the original lineup. The Way Back Home is the name of the album, but this reviewer thought there a little too bit country and not enough Rock and Roll. It got a paltry 3.5 Emeralds and did not make the awards except for that of Comeback Award. Actually, I think people agree with me as the album as disappeared from Amazon.

Two years, two ska reunions. The spirit of Truth (the Roger Breland founded band, which started in 1971, by the 1980's had an extensive horn section and I still think could be considered the father of Ska). The Orange County Supertones (Or OC Supertones) were a staple of the Summer Festival Circuit. They disbanded in 2004, but stirred 8 years later with an album of Repackaged tunes called Reunite. The following year, however, was For the Glory , and that qualified them as a true comeback kid. They also only received Comeback nominations.

We are only halfway through the list. I thought I could do it all in one bite, but I think that was very optimistic. I will have to take another post to finish up. Until then, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Drive To Five: #PlatVnyl4

We conclude our look back at the history of the Platinum Vinyl Awards, our Drive To Five as we call it, with our recap of #PlatVnyl4, more commonly known as last years awards. Since it was the last award, you can catch the nominees and the winners at the appropriate link. At least for now. The nominees page will be updated when the new nominees are announced. For #PlatVnyl4 awards were given in 52 categories, the biggest award year yet, 5 categories greater than #PlatVnyl3. There were 8 video awards, one more than #PlatVnyl3, 15 album awards, 13 song awards, and 16 General Field Awards.

We finally hit the big time with nominees. With the exception of Children's Music Album of The Year, all genre's were able to hit their goal of 7 nominees, and some exceeded it, becoming "genre busters".  The simple result of this abundance of good talent is it pushed the limits of this one man band, and an award ceremony slated for April or May got pushed to August and beyond. Ouch. That should not happen this year.

Another change for #PlatVnyl4 was a more professional look. Awards were handed out by media. First the video awards, then the album awards, and finally the song awards, with the general field finishing it off, with a few of them sprinkled throughout as breaks. That way each winner got a bit of a breather before they had to make their way on stage, get the award from the attractive presenter, and make a boring speech. (We can dream, can't we?)

One part of the awards ceremony improved it by its absence. There was no Fallen Award this year, as there was no major scandal to warrant one. It seems to only strike in odd years, so it should happen this year. (In fairness, the award in #PlatVnyl3 was honorary).

Finally, #PlatVnyl4 was the first Award to fully take advantage of social media. It had been part of the awards since #PlatVnyl2, but it shone here, as nominees and winners were announced four ways. On the Blog, On Twitter, Facebook, and Google+

That gets us off the ground here with #PlatVnyl4. We will get into the meat of the awards next time. Until then, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Drive To Five: Oh Buggles it's Eustace

We finish up our look at #PlatVnyl3 with something new. The Video Awards made its debut this year, giving the Platinum Vinyl Awards Big Time Status, with Song, Album, and Video Awards, along with the General Field. As we said in the opening post, video killed the radio star according to the Buggles. We were about to see if that were true.

For the inaugural year the video awards were incorporated into the show by genre, so each genre went in order Song, Video and Album. Both the song and album awards had seven nominees, the video awards, five. Of course not all of the genres were represented. In addition to the General Field Video Awards (Video of The Year, Video by A Male Artist, Video by a Female Artist, Video by a New Artist), seven genres were represented: Alternative, Pop, Dance, Electronic, Rap, Metal and Rock. #PlatVnyl4 would add Adult Contemporary. While we would like to increase the genres to include them all, at the present the number of genre's may fluctuate from year to year.

Sometimes at Night Beat HQ we seem to have more ties than a dad on Father's Day. The inaugural video awards had one as well. Alternative Video of The Year resulted in a tie, and it all revolved around the meaning of Alternative. If you meant Alternative Music, then the award was given to For King and Country for the post-apocalyptic The Proof of Your Love.  However if you were looking for best Alternative Video, well look no further than Benjamin Dunn and The Animal Orchestra and My Name Is Eustace. You couldn't get much more alternative then people dressed as giant rabbits. Strangely for now, the video seems to have been pulled by Youtube. The link leads to dailymotion.

The electronic genres were represented by the Fringe/GRAC section of CCM. The Dance-Synthpop Video of The Year even went international, with Canadian Valerie Anne Poxleitner aka Lights kept everyone on their Toes. The Electronic-Industrial half went for Shock Value, with Industrial Music Missionaries White Collar Sideshow won with Black Heart Hearse.

The judges rewarded shock value in the inaugural award. Heavy Metal Video went to Close Your Eyes and their beyond the grave love story  Carry You

For video of the year, however, shock did not rule the day. Disney did. You could say that things are looking up.  Up as in Pixar's up. Satellites and Sirens did a cover video of Poison and Wine by The Civil Wars using a scene from the movie. It got the award, after the judges stopped crying.

That concludes our look back at #PlatVnyl3. We look back to last years award next. Until then, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Drive To Five: Revenge of The Fallen

Welcome back to our look back at the Platinum Vinyl Awards first four years as we move on toward #PlatVnyl5 this Spring (yes, fellow Northeastern Chums, it will arrive). When last we were on this topic we had just begun our discussion of #PlatVnyl3, which had taken place in the Spring of 2013 for the 2011-12 year releases. Today we will be discussing the Comebacks as well as the artists that broke up during the eligibility year.

We grew each year in the Comeback of The Year award and this year was no exception. Third Year, Three Comebacks. But Boy oh Boy what comebacks they were. 

We would Kiss the lead singer of the first comeback, but she's already taken. That would be Leigh Nash of Sixpence None The Richer. You may recall that their claim to fame was the single Kiss Me. Well it was a long time between kisses, as their album Lost In Transition came out an entire decade after Divine Discontent. A lot of reviewers panned it, and it wasn't really their best work, but it made the pool with a near perfect 4.75 Emeralds. It did not get an Alternative Album of The Year nomination, though.

Our second comeback artist was from the sub-genre known as Ska. No, it wasn't the Supertones, they would make their bid for comeback platinum in #PlatVnyl4. This was for Motor City Ska's The Insyderz.They always played second fiddle to the Supertones (no, there are no fiddles in ska bands, that's only for the Annie Moses Band). The Sinners Songbook also received a nomination for Best Rock Album.

The final nominee for the award was also the biggest by far. I mean, how many bands strike multiple platinum on their debut? How many redefine their genre and spawn their own sub-genre? How many get to watch the entire industry rush to copy your sound, while at the same time try to exclude you from it? And by industry, I mean CCM. The band of course, is Evanescence. I always found it funny that a band named after the rapture couldn't be accepted by the CCM industry, but such was the case. The self titled third studio album (there is a Live Album in the Mix) was Perfect Platinum, and boy did it shine. It took Comeback of the Year, The Night Beat DJ's Choice Award, Song of The Year and Album of The Year. It also was honorarily given the Night Beat Fallen Award, an award that they were personally responsible for creating, as the band getting Kicked Out of The Kingdom after the release of their debut album Fallen was the impetus for the award. It was nominated for a few more awards that it did not win. Since then, they are on hiatus. Touring takes a lot out of you. They have not broken up, however.

One band did break up after getting their award (the ingratitude!). That was Abel The Band. Their release Make It Right was nominated for Album of The Year, the Song Fire Walk with Me was nominated for Song of The Year. They were also nominated for Alternative Album and Alternative Song of The Year, which they won. I would say that they were the victims of "The Night Beat Curse", sort of like the SI Cover Jinx. Except I don't believe in curses. 

When next we return we shall discuss the Inaugural Video of The Year Awards. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Running on Adrenaline

Well it is true, the Zombie Apocalypse is here. Unfortunately it is in the music industry. I never thought you would hear me say this, but sometimes a band has to know when to hang it up. It's especially hard when it is a band that I have been with from the start.

The Year was 1993. The place was Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Worcester, MA. A Hip Hop radio station out of Boston, Jam'n 94.5  FM was the sponsor. The Headliner was this little unknown band by the name of DC Talk. I know that sounds strange now, but they were a relative unknown at the time. This was the tour that made them.

Opening for the trio was a real unknown. They were about to release their sophomore album which was to be called "Don't Censor Me". In addition to the title cut, the big hit off that album was "We're a band", which really rocked down the house. Of course the fan favorite that would go down in history was called "Big House". That band was called Audio Adrenaline, or in New England vernacular Wicked Loud.

Audio Adrenaline lived up to their name, and that was a good and a bad thing for the band. Every kid loves loud music, but it does take a toll on the voice, and it did to Lead Vocalist Mark Stuart. Considering that the name was Audio Adrenaline and not the Mark Stuart Band, you would think that they could have plugged a new Lead Vocalist into the mix and kept on going. They chose not to do that, so after a run of eight studio albums in 13 years, plus a few live albums and compilations, the band broke up in 2007. Music Trivia Fact: They outlived their headliner that day by 7 years, as DC Talk broke up in 2000. 

Here at +The WENC Night Beat we put a hiatus limit of 5 years on a band. If there is no activity within that time they are, at least unofficially broken up if there has been no official announcement. There was an official announcement, but just about the time we would have done it anyway, in 2012, there was movement. The band was 're-forming', but without Stuart. Former DC Talk crooner Kevin Max was the new lead, and we were skeptical to say the least. Kings and Queens dispelled the skepticism as the band was tailored to his "shimmering vocals". It did very well at the Platinum Vinyl Awards. Unfortunately it was a one and done for Max. 

Now it is time for Version 3.0, one too many for my taste. Nobody from the original is left, and we are breaking up bands left and right. Abandon, Stellar Kart. Time to put the zombie out of its misery. The sound, just like any other band, and that's a shame. Let us remember the good old days with nostalgia before even that is gone. I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Night Beat Rewind: January 2015

2015, or as we like to call it here at +The WENC Night Beat #PlatVnyl6, is fully underway. The Christmas Releases are over and we are getting new material in every Tuesday. We got off to a brisk pace this January, and I'm not talking about the weather. All that did was wreak havoc with the blogging schedule. Looking for Spring.

We continue our tradition of leading off with Single releases, with, hopefully, an album or EP to follow. Tongue in Cheek, we refer to it, in a Valentines appropriate way, as

The Singles Scene

Now normally we would go on to the releases which missed the mark. We looked and looked but couldn't find any. So there are none, barring any lost releases turning up. We almost thought that there were no Perfect Albums this month. Poor bookkeeping made it look like that, but one finally turned up hiding under the rubble.

Pure Platinum Perfection

  • Derek Minor - Empire 5 Emeralds
This is a month for the semi-precious metals, and truly that is the case most months. Usually we have a few more entrants in the other categories as well. But 19 releases here make this a very good month.

Semi-Precious Metal

Well that wraps up January. Love must be in the air. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.