I see at least half a dozen PR emails a day concerning albums and projects I have little interest in. So it figures that I missed the February release of PolCat, the debut album from a project featuring Chris Poland, one of my all-time favorite guitarists. The name, I'm certain, comes from Poland and tenor saxophonist Frank Catalano, who make up half of this astoundingly talented quartet. How I stumbled upon this album is not important -- I'm just glad I did. It's one of the freshest, most enjoyable releases of any genre I've heard this year, and hopefully points the way to more output from this group. I haven't heard much of anything from Catalano prior to this album, but his sax playing is agile and tuneful. Likewise, the rhythm section of bassist Sean O’Bryan Smith and drummer
Many people are inspired by their favorite songs about places to visit the locations that inspired them. But don't bother looking for 22 Acacia Avenue or Xanadu on Google Maps -- they don't exist anywhere but in their songwriters' minds. Elsewhere, however, there are plenty of songs that were inspired by real places. Here are ten of them, should you feel the urge to make a pilgrimage. (You can also check out this list on my Spotify playlist.) #1. "Lakeside Park" -- Rush Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart grew up in Port Dalhousie, Ontario and spent many youthful summers on the village's most popular beach -- Lakeside Park. Peart paid tribute in an atypically nostalgic song on Rush's third album, 1975's Caress of Steel. Peart later reminisced about his Lakeside Park experience
At long last, I present the conclusion of my list of 20 albums that have had the most impact on me and my love of music. For a brief refresher, you can check the back half of the top 20 here. But for your convenience, here's the list: #20 — Queen, The Game #19 — Seals & Crofts, Summer Breeze #18 — Kiss, Creatures of the Night #17 — Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast #16 — Run-D.M.C., Raising Hell #15 — Kiss, Alive! #14 — Rush, A Farewell to Kings #13 — Miles Davis, Kind of Blue #12 — Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Pictures at an Exhibition #11 — various artists, Jazz Master Files OK, now that we're all caught up, let's finish this thing already. As a reminder, this is no particular order but I know people love countdowns so there you go. #10 — Genesis, Duke If Rus
I want to blame writer's block for the fact that it took me a few years to finally write my promised guide to thrash metal legends Megadeth, but that's not really true. I think the real reason is that after the band's glory days ended in the mid-'90s I just sort of lost track of them. I moved on to progressive rock and then later to jazz and just didn't have a lot of time for Dave Mustaine and company. And all those lineup changes didn't help either. So writing this guide for Popdose was as much about reconnecting with one of my favorite bands from back in the day as it was about writing an article. And lo and behold, I got a lot out of it. I rediscovered some great metal albums and learned that Megadeth is far from a spent creative force. Their 2004 album, The System Has Failed...
Today sure feels like a thrash metal kind of day, so here's a nice one from the '80s heyday of the genre. It's Testament with "Trial By Fire", from their 1988 release The New Order. Now I always considered Testament a notch below the premiere thrash bands of the day (Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth, etc.) but I've always liked this song. Trial By Fire - Testament