Zakk Wylde turns the wheel, Justin Wright drones on and Valley of The Sun invoke the gods on today’s short ’n’ sweet Roundup. Enjoy the quiet while it lasts — as soon as SXSW and The Junos are over and the publicists get past their hangovers, daily onslaught is sure to begin anew.
1 Zakk Wylde has two settings: Fearsome biker-rock hellraiser and surprisingly sensitive balladeer. As fans of the bearded behemoth know, the song A Spoke in the Wheel — released on his first Black Label Society album Sonic Brew in 1999 — belongs in the latter category. Apparently the old acoustic-guitar version wasn’t the last word on the song: Wylde and his bandmates have recut it as a piano-driven southern-tinged ballad (think the opening of Free Bird crossed with the coda of Layla). Fittingly enough, it will appear on the Viking-maned singer-guitarist’s upcoming Sonic Brew – 20th Anniversary Blend 5.99 – 5.19, featuring enhanced versions of the tracks. Enhanced? I’ll let him explain. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I don’t want to hear Led Zeppelin II redone, with the band just replaying the whole record,” notes the charismatic frontman and gregarious guitar icon. “The performances and everything is a snapshot in time. We just added on top of what was already there on the original recordings. It’s like we went in and did surgery on this thing. We took the original CD master and added things that made it stronger.” I’m not going to argue with him:
2 Justin Wright seems to like playing with drones. No, not the annoying aerial kind: The mesmerizing musical kind. And when it comes to doing more with less, he’s a master. Hear for your self as the Montreal cellist and composer — who used to be a molecular biology researcher — takes things slow and steady on the gently gliding Drone I: Meditation, a darkly ambient work from his forthcoming debut album Music For Staying Warm. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Drone I pushes the boundaries between classical and experimental music; it blurs the lines between synthetic and acoustic sounds, and heavily features Wright’s innovative cello compositions. The visuals feature an ice skater gracefully navigating through a crowd, filmed in ultra-slow motion to draw on the track’s frozen-in-time feeling.” Lace up your skates:
3 If I had to guess, I would probably assume that Cincinnati stoner-rock outfit Valley of the Sun borrowed their handle from the nickname for Phoenix, and not the 1942 comedy western starring Lucille Ball, James Craig and Dean Jagger. Then again, who knows? It’s not as if their new song — the hard-grooving buzzbomb Means the Same — is divulging any clues. Maybe all will be revealed on their next album Old Gods in May. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “To me, Old Gods is a meditation on who I once was, who I am now, and who I’d like to become,” explains guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier. “We try to evolve with each album,” adds drummer Aaron Boyer. “On Old Gods we added some heavier elements, darker tones, and a touch of psychedelia. We tried some things on this record that we’ve never done before and that made it a lot of fun to make.” In with the old: