White Sun – Behold the Light

Behold the Light brings together world music with hints of reggae and the singer-songwriter tradition. The beautiful vocals which listeners encounter shortly after the song’s beginning reverberate long after the song ceases to play. A male / female dichotomy pushes each side to a tremendous high, while the touching guitars do the same for the vocal / instrumental duality. Fans can strap on a pair of headphones and enjoy Behold the Light in numerous ways, either experiencing it on a surface level, delving into the hopeful lyrical message, or analyzing the dynamic established between the constituent instruments. Whichever way one takes the track in, they will be changed by the song’s closing notes.

We covered White Sun’s Tantric Har last month.

White Sun – Behold the Light (featuring Samuel J) / Domain / Facebook /

Robert Vincent – In This Town You’re Owned (CD)

Flaunting the wide reach of Americana in 2020, the latest, next best shot at growing the genre into a much deservedly wider following is based in Liverpool. On his third album, Robert Vincent puts forth a collection of songs that would make Guy Clark proud.

Thankfully ignoring the advice that musicians should avoid politics, In This Town Your Owned is 10 deeply personal songs reacting to everything from the state of global chaos to spirituality. The highlight is “Kids Don’t Dig God Anymore.” While not taking sides on the religious debate, it’s a beautiful, almost mournful observation about a generation that no longer holds faith or feels a sense of spirituality to get them through the dark times. Thanks to painfully honest lyrics and Vincent’s hauntingly vulnerable vocals, it’s a hymn that even an atheist can sing along to.

Elsewhere, the opening track, “This Town,” is just as earnest and powerful and the seemingly out of character “My Neighbours Ghost,” an up-tempo singalong, is a pleasant surprise. There are moments in the middle of the record where it drags a bit due to sparseness, and a couple more upbeat songs like “My Neighbours Ghost” would round the record out nicely.

Regardless, In This Town You’re Owned is a near perfect modern marriage of folk, country and personal politics.  

Robert Vincent/In This Town You’re Owned/10 tracks/Thirty Tigers/2020

The Drowns – Under Tension (Vinyl)

The Seattle-based four-piece punk band The Drowns manage to somehow sound both assuredly nostalgic and contemporary at the same time. On their latest LP, Under Tension, the band brings to mind everyone from The Street Dogs and the first few Dropkick Murphys albums (sans bagpipes) to Swingin’ Utters. The fact that Ted Hutt, one of the best punk producers to come around in decades, oversaw this latest probably didn’t hurt. But this is far from being a punk rock jukebox. Over the past few years they’ve developed their own style and sound.

The vocals delivered with immediacy and voraciousness paired with a wall of distortion help propel these 11 tracks forward with a sense of urgency. The album kicks off on a strong note with ‘Black Lung” and “Them Rats,” but it’s the third song, “Wolves On The Throne,” where the band really shines. The vocals are mixed higher than the guitars allowing for the lyrics – one of the sharpest political songs written during the Trump administration – to be heard loud and clear. Despite a relative short, but impressive tenure as a group, “Wolves on the Throne” is destined to be a band classic. Elsewhere, “One More Pint” is a reliable Blue Collar drinking song and “Wastin’ Time” is an honest to god love song, though still a punk song at its core, so the sentimentality is still struggling to get over a wall of blaring power chords and machine gun drumming.

While the band’s debut showed plenty of promise, Under Tension over delivers on those promises for a remarkably satisfying LP from start to finish.

The Drowns – Under Tension (Vinyl) / Pirates Press Records/2020

Megadeth and Lamb Of God Release Summer 2020 Tour Dates

Two of the biggest bands in heavy metal – Megadeth and LAMB OF GOD – will be joining forces on a co-headline tour across North America this year, presented by SiriusXM. And to add to the firepower of this already formidable tour, Trivium and In Flames are joining, making this THE must-see heavy music package of the year. Tickets will go on general sale Friday, February 14 from Livenation.

Megadeth, fueled by Dave Mustaine’s triumphant return to the stage following his diagnosis and recovery of throat cancer, will embark on their first North American tour since 2017. Speaking on the epic announcement, Megadeth’s leader and frontman, Dave Mustaine says, “Hello me! I’m back again, better than ever and coming to a town near you with Lamb of God, Trivium and In Flames. If you want high octane metal madness this is the tour for you.”

LAMB OF GOD released their first new music in five years last week with the single “Checkmate.” The track is the first to be released from the band’s self-titled eighth studio album, due out May 8, which is one of the most anticipated and important metal records of the year. Commenting on their upcoming co-headline run, Mark Morton, lead guitarist of LAMB OF GOD, adds, “The world has never needed heavy more than it does today and top to bottom, this tour delivers! LAMB OF GOD has toured with and been friends with all of these bands for years, but for all of us to be on the same bill is something extra special. Come early and stay late. This is THE metal tour of the year.”

Trivium’s Matt Heafy adds, “We are happy to be a part of the biggest real metal tour of the year. This tour is the main event and represents heavy metal and the culture that goes with it.“

With In Flames singer, Anders Fridén stating, “We were honored to be asked to join this package. We were actually supposed to take this summer off, but of course we couldn’t say no. After playing shows with all of these guys for years, 2020 is going to feel like a kick ass reunion. See you on the road, Jesterheads!”

Produced by Live Nation, this epic 55-city tour will stretch across summer and fall, kicking off June 12 in Bristow, VA, and hit every region of the U.S. before wrapping November 13 in Reno, NV. Multiple Canadian shows are scheduled as well. See full itinerary below.

Tickets and VIP packages for all four artists go on sale to the general public beginning Friday, February 14 at 10 a.m. local time. Citi is the official presale credit card of the tour. As such, Citi cardmembers will have access to purchase presale tickets & VIP packages beginning Tuesday, February 11 at 10 a.m. local time until Thursday, February 13 at 10 p.m. local time through Citi Entertainment.

Megadeth and LAMB OF GOD NORTH AMERICAN tour dates:

Summer 2020:

6/12 – Bristow, VA @ Jiffy Lube Live

6/13 – Charlotte, NC @ PNC Music Pavilion

6/14 – Raleigh, NC @ Red Hat Amphitheater

6/16 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater

6/17 – Wantagh, NY @ Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater

6/18 – Camden, NJ @ BB&T Pavilion

6/20 – Holmdel, MA @ PNC Bank Arts Center

6/21 – Boston, MA @ Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion

6/23 – Syracuse, NY @ St. Joseph’s Heath Amphitheater at Lakeview

6/24 – Providence, RI @ Bold Point Lake Amphitheater

6/28 – Burgettstown, PA @ S&T Bank Music Park*

6/29 – Toronto, ON @ Budweiser Stage

7/1 – Detroit, NI @ DTE Energy Music Theater

7/2 – Mount Pleasant, MI @ Soaring Eagle Casino Amphitheatre

7/3 – Indianapolis, IN @ Ruoff Music Center

7/5 – Atlanta, GA @ Ameris Music Center

7/7 – Cincinnati, OH @ PNC Pavilion

7/8 – Cleveland, OH @Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica

7/10 – Chicago, IL @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre – Chicago, IL

7/11 – Sgt. Louis, MO @ Chicago, IL @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre – St. Louis, MO*

7/12 – Nashville, TN @ Nashville Municipal Auditorium

7/14 – Rogers, AR @ Walmart AMP*

7/16 – Austin, TX @ Germania Insurance Amphitheater

7/17 – Houston, TX @ The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

7/18 – Irving, TX @The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory+

7/20 – Albuquerque, NM @ Isleta Amphitheater

7/21- Phoenix, AZ @ Isleta Amphitheater

7/23 – Irvine, CA @ FivePoint Amphitheatre

7/25 – Auburn, WA @ White River Amphitheatre

7/26 – Portland, OR @ Moda Center

7/29 – Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheatre

7/30 – Pocatello, ID @ Portneuf Health Trust Amphitheatre

8/1 – Concord, CA @ Concord Pavilion

Fall 2020:

10/2 – West Palm Beach, CA @ iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre

10/6 – Birmingham, AL @ Oak Mountain Amphitheatre

10/7 – New Orleans, LA @ UNO Lakefront Arena

10/9 – Corpus Christi, TX @ American Bank Center Arena

10/11 – El Paso, TX @ Don Haskins Center

10/14 – Springfield, MO @ JOH Arena

10/16 – Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center

10/21 – Columbus, OH @ Schottenstein Center

10/23 – Huntington, WV @ Mountain Heath Arena

10/24 – Bethlehem, PA @ The Wind Creek Event Center

10/27 – Quebec City, QC @ Centre Videotron

10/28 – Laval, QC @ Place Bell

10/30 – St, Paul, MN @ Armory

10/3 – Green Bay, WI @ Resch Center*

11/2 – Omaha, NE @ Baxter Arena

11/3 – Sioux Falls, SD @ Denny Sanford PREMIER Center

11/5 – Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center

11/7 – Las Vegas, NV @ Mandalay Bay Events Center

11/10 – Spokane, WA @ Spokane Arena

11/11 – Nampa, ID @ Ford Idaho Center Arena

11/13 – Reno, NV @ Reno Events Center

*on sale starts 11 a.m. local time

+on sale starts 12 noon local time

Meridian Vanilla Stout (Ecliptic Brewing)

Meridian begins with hints of wheat and toasted malt on its nose, with a fair amount of tannish head and considerable lacing as one starts into their first sip. The toastiness of this malt expands as one takes that first quaff, with subsequent pulls bringing a bit more bitterness into the mix. There is a rich body and a thicker mouthfeel to Meridian than other similar dry / irish stouts on the market. Ecliptic’s desire to ramp things up here stops the brew from moving into a too-sweet end; the overall flavor profile initially enjoyed at the onset is replicated to near-perfection by the time one hits the bottle for the final rodeo.

Meridian would be a solid pairing with strongly-flavored meats (smoked fare, boudin, prosciutto) as well as region-specific fare including dishes from the middle east and North Africa. Nuts and cheeses would also be highlighted to great success if matched with Meridian.

For those looking for a stout that has a bit more complexity than many of the cooler standards in a similar style, Meridian should be what you search out. We’d love it if Ecliptic decides to put some of this stout into bourbon barrels for a bit and release toward the beginning of 2021. Our fingers are crossed.

We’ve previously covered Ecliptic’s Orange Giant barleywine and Five Years / Five Beers (Hazy Double IPA) a few years back.

Meridian Vanilla Stout (Ecliptic Brewing) / Irish-Style Stout / 5.2% ABV / Facebook / Twitter

Olya K – Hollywood

On Hollywood, Olya K is able to create a robust dance track with an infectious beat. The song does well in refreshing dance music from the 1970s onwards. The bit of pop that bubbles through with Olya K’s vocals ensures that the single can garner replay value. Synths and insistent percussion will draw listeners out to the dance floor, while the song’s chorus will reside in one’s brains for months, if not years, after the track’s first play. Olya K possesses a sort of earnest sound that further catapults the track’s prestige when compared to other songs, while the gradual increase in tempo will keep interest high until she closes up things.

Olya K – Hollywood / Facebook / Instagram /

AM Clouds – Tune Me In

During Tune Me In, AM Clouds are able to refresh the alternative rock sounds of acts like Soul Asylum and the Goo Goo Dolls into a vibrant and taut experience. The band is able to link together fuzzy guitars, thick bass, and charismatic vocals into a song that will stick with fans long after the song ceases to play. Particular kudos have to be given to the extended instrumental section that rises up at around the 4:15 mark. The presence of this section provides AM Clouds with ample time to wind things down nicely.

AM Clouds – Tune Me In / 2020 Self Released / Facebook /

Ready, Steady, Die! “Woebetide”

Woebetide, the new effort from Ready, Steady, Die! is glorious in how it captures listeners’ attention. Beautiful vocals play at the front of the track while the instrumentation gradually reaches a creschendo. Breaking over the song like a weave, the synths and guitars push the aforementioned vocals into a higher plateau. Working towards the same goals, these distinct elements combine into a perfectly-polished piece of drama. The track’s final minute opens up into pure chaos before collapsing into a one-two of organic-feeling strings and industrial-typed noise. A four-minute composition has never been so engrossing.

Ready, Steady, Die! “Woebetide” 

Lila Blue “Half of It”

On Half Of It, Lila Blue is able to call back to the days of performers like Joni Mitchell and Carole King. Strong vocals are matched through confident pianos. While there is a passing nod to the pop of the 1960s and 1970s, a look forward to the work of Fiona Apple and Ani DiFranco will draw fans in by the barrelful. Fans will be on the edges of their seats with the narrative that is established on Half Of It. For those looking at the aggregate, the usage of quieter sections during the second half showcases a masterstroke by Blue.

Lila Blue “Half of It” / Domain /

A Permanent Shadow – Radical Change

On Radical Change, A Permanent Shadow is able to blend together new wave and 1980s ska styles into something bold and refreshing. Assertive vocals hand off the reins to Flock of Seagulls-inspired guitar work and luxurious synths. Most stunning of this composition has to be the masterful use of tempo; the slower section in the song’s middle allows for A Permanent Shadow to gradually build things back up into a robust clip. With hints of Blondie and Television that can be heard at the song’s periphery, the band is able to tattoo a melody deep into the minds and hearts of listeners.

A Permanent Shadow – Radical Change / Domain / Facebook /