Miggs: Wide Awake

RIYL: Butch Walker, Matthew Good, Bon Jovi

Apparently Don Miggs has been making music and touring for several years, but as the bio for Miggs’ eponymous trio proclaims, they may be one of the “best bands you’ve never heard of.”  That’s a blessing and a curse, yet in today’s indie music scene, maybe more of a blessing if you can be heard.  Indie rock/pop label Rock Ridge was impressed enough with Miggs’ accessible, hard-edged alternative pop.  Miggs’ latest, Wide Awake, is 12 songs that ride as a roller coaster might – from addictive anthems like “Let the Games Begin” and the title track to Butch Walker-esque ditties like “Fire” and “Sincerity,” to balls-out rockers such as “Enemy,” with a positively stunning keyboard-driven ballad, “Crawl Inside,” to close out the set.  Miggs the vocalist sounds at various times like Jon Bon Jovi, Walker and Canadian rocker Matthew Good, and those are all guys with pipes.  Add in the production expertise of Ken Lewis (Fall Out Boy, Kanye West) and the rough edges of the band are captured on this release, yet effectively smoothed out as well. Intrigued?  You should be, because this is easily one of the best albums of 2010 that you….wait for it…..have not heard yet.  So do yourself a favor and go hear these guys.  (Rock Ridge 2010)

Miggs’ website: www.miggsmusic.com


Sons of Sylvia: Revelation

RIYL: Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Rascal Flatts

Don’t blame brother trio Sons of Sylvia if they are a bit pigeon-holed into the country music genre, because that’s not what they are. Sure, the band won a talent competition that led to a deal with 19 Recordings, and one of the band members was a backup singer in Carrie Underwood’s band, but their debut, Revelation, is no more country than Bon Jovi or Bret Michaels. Oh wait….yeah, there is much crossover these days. Let’s just say this is a rock album with moments of twang and leave it at that. And as debut albums go, this is a pretty strong set. The trio is led by singer Ashley Clark and the trio writes together with the help of folks like OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, who happens to be their cousin. And while Ashley has a strong voice, one of the drawbacks is that he tries too hard to show it off. The album opens with “John Wayne,” and this is the country rock song Bon Jovi couldn’t seem to write, but with too many vocal acrobatics a la Adam Lambert. But it’s a good one, as are most of the tracks on here. “Love Left to Lose” is a powerful gang-vocal anthem, “50 Ways” could find its way onto an Aerosmith album, and the current single, “I’ll Know You,” is pure pop power ballad. But the best track of all is “Song of Solomon,” a slowly building gem in which the vocal acrobatics are more appropriate. All in all this is a solid debut and this is a band that could have an extremely bright future. (19 Recordings/Interscope)

Sons of Sylvia MySpace Page


Steel Panther: Feel the Steel

RIYL: Spinal Tap, Poison, songs about loose women

The emergence of hair metal parody band Steel Panther in today’s musical climate is enough to cause the space/time continuum to collapse on itself. “The Wrestler” showed us that there is an entire generation of people who love hair metal in a non-ironic way (unlike, say, Ellen Page’s character in “Whip It,” who wears her mother’s Stryper T-shirt as a joke), which means that a talented hair metal band has a legitimate shot at scoring a left-field hit.

So what to make, then, of a hair metal band 20 years past the genre’s sell-by date, sporting chops to the heavens…but a juvenile lyrical streak that borders on contempt? That is the conundrum that surrounds Feel the Steel, the new album by Steel Panther, the artists formerly known as Danger Kitty and Metal Skool. There is no question that they can play, and their knockoffs of more legitimate (but no less cheesy) hair metal songs are spot-on (expect Jon Bon Jovi’s lawyers to sue for the royalties to “Party All Day” in 3…2…1…). But hot damn, does the joke get old quickly, and they can kiss any chance of appealing to the fairer sex goodbye with tale after tale of misogyny. If the object of singer Michael Starr’s desire isn’t a hooker (“Asian Hooker”), she’s a stripper (“Stripper Girl”), or fat (“Fat Girl”), a small-town piece of ass (“Girl from Oklahoma”), or just plain ugly (“Turn Off the Lights”). Starr knows no fidelity (“Community Property,” “Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin'”), dedicates a chorus to the phrase “two in the pink and one in the stink” (“The Shocker”), and finishes the “More Than Words” knockoff “Girl from Oklahoma” with the words “Yeah, suck it, bitch.” Wow.


All right, we get what they’re doing here. The original wave of hair metal was littered with songs about underage girls, partying, and partying with underage girls, and Steel Panther is simply taking a Zen approach to it all by also addressing the cheating, the drugs, and the sharing of STDs that those guys chose not to sing about. Ha ha, very cute. The problem is that it loses its impact roughly halfway through the album, and the talk of blowing loads, lube, and mimicking blowjob sounds distracts from the band’s better qualities, namely Starr’s ability to impersonate nearly every singer from the hair metal era. (His David Lee Roth is the best, for the record.) Our suggestion: trim the number of songs about, um, trim in half, and focus on other topics, like what a drag it is to have Satan for a master – there is surely a parallel between being one of Satan’s minions and being a teenager with an overbearing dad – or even better, sing about something so far over the heads of most metal acts (quantum physics, for example) that the songs can stand on their own, rather than in the shadows of their predecessors.

Feel the Steel is good for a laugh, but there isn’t anything here that you – or even Steel Panther – will be playing ten years from now. It is purely an of-the-moment guilty pleasure, though it could have been so much more. Pity. (Island 2009)

Steel Panther MySpace page
Click to buy Feel the Steel from Amazon


Rolling Stone breaks down the odds for Super Bowl XLIV halftime act

It’s almost a year away, but that didn’t stop the folks at Rolling Stone from throwing out the names of a few potential acts to follow in Bruce Springsteen’s footsteps.

It’s a tall order to fill: applicants must be legendary but still active, rocking but not raucous, and as big as the game itself. So who’s left? Oddsmakers are already lining up favorites for next year’s Lombardi Trophy (The Patriots? Really? No love for your new champs, the Pittsburgh Steelers? Your loss, Vegas.), so we thought we’d set the odds for next year’s halftime show. The NFL could go country (Tim McGraw? Taylor Swift?) or pop (Kelly Clarkson will soon return to us), but you have to presume they’ll stick with what works — big rock from big names. We have, of course, completely pulled these names and numbers out of thin air, plus gambling’s illegal just about everywhere, so keep your money in your wallet.

The Who
Pros: Legendary band with a sound louder than the game itself.
Cons: None. They’re the Who.
Odds: 3/2

In addition to the magazine’s suggestions — The Who (solid), Bon Jovi (solid), AC/DC (too hard), John Mellencamp (solid), Metallica (too hard), Van Halen (maybe), Nickelback (why?), Green Day (big enough profile?), Foo Fighters (see Green Day), Jay-Z (didn’t he retire?) — I’ll throw a few out there as well: Bob Seger, Neil Diamond, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, the Black Crowes, the Eagles and the Steve Miller Band.

Who do you think should provide the halftime entertainment next year?