After a string of successful single releases like Committed To Wind, Stow Away, Moving Parts, Reflex Motor, and "Don''t Panic" recorded live in New York''s CBGB, ALIENS release their first album, Head First. The album represents the culmination of more than a year of recording and mixing starting last July at the legendary SUN STUDIOS in Memphis.
ALIENS is the musical entity created by Blake Sandberg, featuring Blake on guitars and vocals with drummer Ed Warga. While living in New York City, the artist and musician was coping with the destruction and lingering aftermath of 9/11, Blake began using ALIENS as a name for his band in 2002. (Not to be confused with "The Aliens," the former Beta Band) This defining moment and time, along with a chronic illness, influenced future Head First tracks like Guinea Pig and Survivor Story, which Blake wrote while looking out his Tribeca apartment window, blocks from where the Trade Center stood, "watching the sun come up as Ground Zero burned."
Head First brings together musicians and talent from around the world including guest drummers Tamaki Ui from Japan, Raanen Bozzio, son of Frank Zappa''s drummer Terry Bozzio, and Iggy Pop and David Bowie drummer, Hunt Sales, with ALIENS current drummer, Ed Warga. The bulk of the album was recorded in Austin with engineer Mark Younger-Smith. Fred Remmert recorded the bonus track Mirror Song on Elvis''s NEVE mixing console.
Ironically, Alien Mind Control, a Daniel Johnston composition was recorded on SHIMMY DISC founder KRAMER''s board in New York, the same board that was used to record Daniel Johnston, Jad Fair, and so many others. KRAMER even entered the project by mastering Head First.
Blake also plays drums on several tracks including Theme, Beggars Can''t Be Choosers, Glacier, and Clammy. Blake says, "I learned a lot about drumming from watching my older brother play drums when I was a kid." In the recordings, Blake has used a UNIVOX transistor drum machine as a helpful tool, laying down guitar and vocals with the drum machine and then tracking the bass and drums over the unending beat.
ALIENS has been described as a, "two-man SEX PISTOLS" because of Blake''s ferocious guitar playing and the band''s direct, full-on approach. The guitarist''s use of pedals to create unusual effects with Ed''s thunderous drumming, combine to form the ALIENS signature, a powerful and complex sound from only two musicians. Songs like Shape Shifter demonstrate how keeping the songs'' structure simple has allowed ALIENS to concentrate on interweaving their notes and rhythms and for Blake to focus on vocals and guitar sounds, adding variations to each song. Blake also plays bass on the studio tracks via multi-tracking to thicken the sound. However live it is only a two-piece supplemented by a second guitar amp, uniquely run through two octave pedals simultaneously making a bass guitar sound with Blake''s guitar.
Head First reflects the frustrating world and time in which we live. Glacier obviously refers to global warming, with it''s "watch-the-ice-caps-melt" chant while Reflex Motor, is a breathtaking assault on war and oil. Skeleton is at once a lament on life''s mortality and a reflection of the ongoing war itself. Sometimes the sound darkens further in mood, as in Clammy, or in content as with Serial Killer, a song inspired by and even quoting the "Son of Sam." Moving Parts and Committed to Wind describe what it is like growing up in American''s pop culture, mass media environment. There is even a love song, Beggars Can''t Be Choosers, a questioning of love or lust.
The Head First album proves that ALIENS are not afraid, and not afraid to rock! ALIENS debut is an expansive album with each song adding a different sound or mood and feeling. Each song is simple, stripped down, but each unique. The songs are direct and catchy. These are songs you will remember the next day.
Head First will be released Friday, November 16. The CD and LP is available online through MISC. MUSIC. Please visit https://www.tradebit.com or directly from the band at https://www.tradebit.com in addition to local retail outlets. Digital downloads are available through iTunes.
ALIENS will be performing shows in Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, over the next two months. An East-Coast tour is being planned after the New Year.
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