Reviews: Hedley, The Colour, Infradig, Jeff Queen, Nucleo Vega, Bob Cianci, Kevin Coggins, David Barrett

Every month(ish), we recommend the most seriously awesome albums and tracks we had on repeat. We also watched an instructional vid and worked through some books. Goddamn, we are good drum fanatics.



Music: Unbelievable. Here again is a group of Canadians colonizing the once-mighty shores of American rock. We’re not insecure or anything: It’s just that our northerly neighbors aren’t supposed to be this good, aren’t supposed to pop this hard. And the really painful part? Lead singer Jacob Hoggard—he of the envy-inducing pipes and electric stage presence—was actually a finalist on Canadian Idol (before, that is, he sobered up and asked to be voted off). Our American Idols are good only for bad Christmas albums. Okay, now we’re feeling insecure.

Drumming: Chris Crippin plays punky pop beats that are adamantium solid but with plenty of satisfyingly jagged edges. Go get cut on the ride cymbal accents in “321.”

The Straight Poop: I’ve said it before about other Canuck bands, but this time I really mean it: Hedley is better than Pamela Anderson wearing nothing but a hockey jersey and french kissing a beer bottle. 

The Colour

Between Earth & Sky

Music: Despite that telltale letter u in the band’s name, The Colour is mercifully not from Canada. In fact, the fivesome hail from our very own Los Angeles—perennial site of numerous musical crimes and atrocities. These Colour fellows, though, are guilty only of cranking out excellent and inviting dirty-rock tunes. Not dirty sleazy, mind you. More like dirty mellow-sexy. Give a two-second listen to the seductive sounds of Wyatt Hull’s vocals, and you’ll see what I mean. 

Drumming: Nathan Warkentin’s grooves are deep and dark, and it sounds like he’s playing something warm and vintage, an ancient Gretsch kit with beat-up heads and muddied cymbals. Beautiful. And dig on the perfect jangle banging in “Can’t You Hear It Call.”

The Straight Poop: Between you and me, Between Earth & Sky is one of the best discs of the New Year. So please don’t tell any of those aging hipsters at Blender. They’ll just take all the credit.


Clinical Indifference (the Psychology of Breathing)

Music: My ears have begun bleeding. And I might be dying. But it’s a right of passage, a privilege really to experience Infradig’s mangle of acoustic and electronic instrumentals. There’s even something sonically voyeuristic about the whole affair. It’s kind of turning me on.

Drumming: Joshua Caleb Green, a subtly stupendous shredding machine, manages to wrest rich drum sounds from what could have been a bunch of hermetic, hostile songs. First check out the buzzing beat and solo breaks in the title track, and then fast-forward to the tight double strokes in “Muttering/Shrapnel.” Drumming (and listening) on the edge, this is. And I’m not sure what will happen if you lose your balance.

The Straight Poop: Don’t read too much into the disc’s title, because there’s nothing at all indifferent about the tunes—just 56.3 minutes of electro-rock guaranteed to shock even the most musically brain addled out of a boy-band coma. 

Jeff Queen

Playing With Sticks

You’ve never been in better hands. Jeff Queen is a four-time world snare drum champion (as well as a former member of the esteemed Bluecoats and Velvet Knights drum corps), and in this must-have DVD he guides you through nearly four hours of essential playing techniques and slick stick tricks. That alone is pretty damn cool, of course. But the great part about Playing is that Queen is truly an excellent instructor, with the kind of soft voice and considerate demeanor you’d want and expect from perhaps a…umm…world-class proctologist (you know, someone who’s gentle with the hard stuff). Just a sample of what Queen crams in: proper grip and setup, sound production fundamentals, the Moeller stroke, the velocity stroke, polyrhythms, buzz control, hybrid diddles, backsticking, stick tosses, and solo composition. And before you start practicing, be sure to poke around the DVD’s extra features for extended solo examples and written-out exercises.  [Update 2022: you can now download this vid directly from Hudson for only $3.99. Click the link above.]

Nucleo Vega

Understanding Groove for Drum Set: Bridging the Gap Between Physical and Auditory Awareness

It’s no secret that finding the groove is an ongoing, oftentimes frustrating journey, so let Nucleo Vega show your sticks the way. A thorough analysis of the entire concept of what it actually means “to groove,” his book essentially attempts to improve the consistency and deepen the feel of your playing. Chapters include exercises on beat placement and displacement, groove interpretation through language and shape (be sure to check out the handy diagrams), beat vocalizations (with a syllabic system derived from Indian tabla drumming), polytempo independence, and the role of the Moeller technique. 80 pages. Also includes a DVD and an 86-track CD.

Bob Cianci

Great Rock Drummers of the Sixties: Revised Edition

If you can’t seem to get ’60s drummers out of your system, or if you just want to read more about what made those yesteryear powerhouses pound so good, then this is your book. First published almost 17 years ago, the revised edition includes all the players you’d expect (Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, Charlie Watts, Mitch Mitchell), all the players you’d want (Ginger Baker, Carmine Appice, Hal Blaine), and a whole bunch of players you might not have thought about in years (Dave Clark, Mickey Jones, Dennis Thompson). Yep, the kids might be older now, but they’re still all right. 223 pages. [Update 2022: click the link above for a 26-page preview in Google books.]

Kevin Coggins & David Barrett

Blues Drum Method: An Essential Study of Blues Drums for the Beginning to Advanced

This book opens with a short historical overview of the blues, provides a few suggestions about getting the best sound from your instrument, and includes a brief guide to notation as well as a glossary of musical and drumming terms. As expected, though, most of the pages are devoted to bunches and bunches of traditional and modern blues beats—shuffles, ballads, swing feels, even some Latin-tinged varieties. The final chapter introduces build-ups and fills. Comes with a 47-track CD. And if you really get bitten by the blues bug, pick up the companion piece, Blues Drums Play-Along Trax, for more song-based practice. 56 pages.

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