Rock and roll, it’s good for the soul, as they say and I wholeheartedly support that statement as the truth. There is a fabulous feeling of having shredding guitars and thumping bass lines push all the crazy out of your head, like therapy but cheaper and way more efficient than Prozac, that’s for sure. So with that in mind, I enter into Mill Valley’s famed Sweetwater Music Hall so I could subject myself and my internal demons to the ultimate therapeutic process of a double bill of killer rock in roll with the ladies of Zepparella and the opening act of Gretchen Menn Trio, the Zepparella guitarist’s newest personal music venture.
Gretchen Menn is a mad woman on guitar. Her beauty is remarkable, like a porcelain doll that kills it with a six string electric and a cello bow. Her new trio, with bassist Anna Pfeiffer and drummer Tom Perry, is all instrumental, walking the line between heavy metal and classical guitar styles; it’s a dirty and elegant mix as only Menn can make it. There is such a charge with her music, pulsing, raging and completely hard-driving. Menn showcased original songs from her many solo-venture albums, including the aggressive, heavy metal vibe of “Scrap Metal” and “Oleo Strut” to the slow and gentle songs “Bures-sur-Yvette” and a cover of “Irish Eyes”.
Then there is Zepparella, those beautiful ladies in white, busting out all the Led Zeppelin you could ever want and need. The band pays tribute to Led Zeppelin without trying to be like them, as there is no need. They do things their own way as they uphold the Led Zeppelin songbook with dignity, poise and pure female power. This band has been around for a long time, rocking hard with a pure magnetism not unlike the original Led Zeppelin. Lead singer and harmonica player Anna Kristina, who once again adds her voice to the music, struts, dances and seduces you with her prowess just like Robert Plant. Gretchen Menn comes back to her guitar and does Jimmy Page justice with pure, melodic shred while bassist Holly West and drummer Clementine bust out the backbeat like a heartbeat. Zepparella creates a mood and dynamic that plays out like wildfire. The band covered such Zep favorites as “Lemon Song”, “Bring It On Home”, “Daze & Confused” as well as “The Ocean” and “Night Flight”.
As I have stated, like, a million times before, music is medicine, and a great night of hard-driving rock and roll was just the dose of “happy’ many of us needed
Rewind: 1984. I was a teenaged metalhead living in Seattle when the heavy, progressive, hard rockers Queensrÿche first entered into my listening sphere. The releases of their epic and hard-driving “Queen Of The Reich” and “Take Hold Of The Flame” were part of a perfect soundtrack to my teen angst, with shredding guitars, ass-whooping baselines and tons of screaming vocals. I was a fan of the band up until the 90’s, but then life and other musical adventures took me to places unknown and Queensrÿch disappeared from my radar.
Fast forward: 2019. “What? Queensrÿche still tours? They have been pumping out album after album after album since my initial induction into their musical world? WOW! No Way!” I think. And yet here they are, on tour with a sold-out pit stop at Slim’s in San Francisco with most of the founding members alive and kicking, and they are still making seriously awesome metal.
It’s refreshing to hear music that is simultaneously new and familiar, where the genres meld together to form a seamless blanket of sound that can take you on journeys within your mind. San Francisco based indie-rock band Milk For The Angry has created just that kind of vibe with their newly released album Extraterrestrial Desert.
Milk For The Angry, singer/guitarist Dana Lindström, drummer Cole Bailey and bassist Kyle Stringer are focused and driven young men, creating a pile of songs that embody a feeling of 60’s surf rock mixed with spacey 80’s pop and flavored with a modern edge of hard-driving rock. The band self-funded their latest release, creating an album that is wholly theirs, with lyrical content that is poetic yet yearns for deeper meaning.
“The recording of this album was actually very cozy because we worked from the ground up with our good friend and musical merman Christopher Daddio (who also lended his keys and vocal chops to a few tracks) at his home studio," says Dana Lindström. "We had the comforts of a loving home and were getting the best results we have ever had so we couldn't ask for more. This will be our second full-length album and we're excited about the direction that we are going; still maintaining our heavier psyched-out roots but getting into some spacier, soft tunes as well. We all have backgrounds in heavier music and we all see eye to eye in wanting a sound that is heavy but doesn't come off as "tough guy" or "scary." We want to keep it fun and positive because that's what we're craving more of in life and it’s a direct correlation.“