Two New Reviews

18 06 2008

Ok, so now that finals are finally over, I can write some more reviews. The first will be Flogging Molly’s most recent album, “Float”. I must say that I was extremely pleased with this album, and I felt that it displays a well-matured Flogging Molly. The band manages to deliver their famous hybrid of punk and celtic sounds while fine-tuning their sound at the same time. Songs like the title track, Float, and The Story So Far represent a slightly mellower, yet still potent, side of the band. Paddy’s Lament, From the Back of a Broke Dream, and Man With No Country, however, keep Flogging Molly’s driving punk core alive, and really drive the album between the slower tunes. All in all, the album is a perfect mixture, and is in my mind a masterpiece.

5 out of 5

My second review will be on State Radio’s “Year of the Crow”. State Radio is one of my favorite bands, and I am pleased to say that they did not dissapoint me with this album. Although it represents a different sound than “Us Against the Crown”, I believe that sophmore albums should be about expanding and exploring a little. Some fans may be upset by the lack of reggae-influenced songs on this album, but I’m sure that this sound will resurface later. For the time being, I believe that Chetro, Maddog, and Chuck have done an excellent job with more of a punk/rock feel, which gives this album more of a drive than “Us Against the Crown” had. Overall, I applaud the boys for branching out, and I give this album highest marks.

5 out of 5

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Minor Threat and Mars Volta

23 05 2008

So for this weeks reviews I am going to look at two completely different albums. First up is Minor Threats Complete Discography followed by The Mars Volta’s Bedlam In Goliath. Both albums demonstrate great leaps forward in music and the band own genera’s.

First up is Minor Threats Complete Discography. The first thing you may notice about this is its one disc with 26 songs total. Many don’t buy punk albums because of them being short and really basic. I would have to disagree with this just because something is short doesn’t make the music bad. My feeling is that Minor Threat gets their point across and feels no need to extend out into long solo’s and jam sessions. The quick lighting fast songs at the start of the album highlight Minor Threats sense of speed. Their lighting fast riffs and quick (somewhat same) drum beats paint a picture of a Band that never really stops but instead pauses for a minute. The first big song on the album that I really loved was Minor Threat, Ian MacKaye blaring lyrics and almost violent tone scare me and after watching live shows I see what so many were talking about. The Band seems to have lure and control over the crowd to the point of near complete control. Theirs is a lot to be said for Minor Threats lyrics and message, it was one that was not really common in that day in age. Many credit MacKaye with the founding of the Straight Edge movement within Hardcore Punk an aspect that goes against what the culture idea of the Punk scene was in late 80’s. To this day people still follow the principles “No Drugs” “No Drinking” “No Promiscuous Sex”.

Throughout the album MacKaye comment on the problems (social, economical, political) occurring throughout America and feels that Straight Edge would help the situation. This idea is highlighted in In My Eyes, MacKaye seems to slowly build up to his explosion of anger an contempt for what sounds like a friend. The seems to be a one on one confrontation between MacKaye and the individual over how the person treats himself, the song seem to be half a speech and more of an attempt to stop the person from doing what ever he .

The Final real highlight of the album is Salad Days the final song ever released by Minor Threat and a different one at that. If you listen to the start and end of the album you would find two completely different bands. While Salad Days is a good song its still not Minor Threat. With a more constructed formula to their music its more controlled and tamed then their songs at the beginning of the album. Overall the album covers Minor Threat from start to finish and shows a side of punk rock that is rather lost in today’s modern punk. The album brings you back to a time when all you could do was Do it Yourself.

4 out of 5

Minor Threat

Next up is The Mars Volta Bedlam in Goliath their newest album to their ever increasing library of songs, while the first couple of Mars Volta albums could be considered concept albums that really never materializing into true albums more long solo’s and ambient noise. Though I don’t feel that way towards the first couple of Mars Volta albums I can see the perspective of those listening. Though their newest album is the one of the most constructed and focus albums of their career.

The album seems to open up and really never stop, the first single of the album Wax Simularca highlights the furious style of the band. After much searching the band has seemed to find its formula, with the addition of drummer Thomas Pridgen who adds really intricate drumbeats and appropriate and sometimes utter stunning fills. The next highlight of the band is Omar Rodgruiz Lopez the left hand guitarist from El Paso and former member of At The Drive In. With no problem Lopez changes from style to style to fill the voids and gaps within the album. With great solo’s and cool blend of effects and true skill Lopez grinds out great songs with a mixture of prog rock and jazz. The Final highlight to the lineup is Cedric Bixler-Zavala the lead singer and un questionable leader of the band, with great singing style Cedric is one of the biggest highlights of the band. The album slowed down only at one point, the song Tourniquets Man a slow song that seems to only allow them to catch their breath for a moment just to get back into it.

The final great song is definitely Soothsayer which has a weird Arab overtone to it combined with a group of strings give the song a creepy build up to the start of this eight minute masterpiece. Overall Bedlam in Goliath is one of the best of albums for the Mars Volta but it is still not their greatest work, I would also say thought this is a great entry album for someone who has never listened to anything by them.

4 out of 5

Bedlam In Goliath

-TheInsider9





Metal Past Present and Future

19 05 2008

For todays post I decide to chose a topic I am not very knowledgeable about, and that is Metal. While I believe all genres have there place in music metal I have always had a hard time with. It was just until recently when a friend of mine suggested and album to me, after listening to it I was stunned by the quality of musicians and their producers. Since then I tired to go back through what Metal I own and try to retrace the steps of one of the most successful genres to date. I started my look back at the late 1980’s with Slayer. Though I had heard only one song of their (Raining Blood) I had foolishly placed them in the no talent rack. I then was given a copy of Reign in Blood there most successful and most highly praised album to date. Both my friend and others that I know who like Metal suggested that I start here.

Reign In Blood is Slayer’s 3rd album and is their most structured to date, only 30 minutes long the album breaks barriers with its striped down songs and faster then light tempo. Slayers opening song “Angel of Death” starts with a deathly scream that sets the mood for the rest of the album. Of what I could get from the lyrics the albums seems centered around the Nazi extermination camps of World War Two. The paces seems to never really slow or falter at any place. After “Angel of Death” comes another highlight of the album “Piece By Piece” sticking to there strip down style of the album the song only runs to about two minutes. After “Piece by Piece” the next great highlight is “Postmortem” which builds up to the finally song of the track which pretty much every kid knows now (including myself) “Raining Blood”, while out of context (say in Guitar Hero 3) its an odd song when you mash it in with the whole album its truly one of the best ending songs to an album ever.  Its power and sound smooth finish the album of with a great breakdown that then leads into a crack of thunder and rain. Overall I feel like I should go try to repent my sins to the music gods for ever labeling this as bad. This album really feels like an essential to anyone wanting to see where most modern metal bands got there inspiration .

5 out of 5

Slayer's "Reign In Blood"

Next up on my metal Journey we turn to one of the current leaders of American metal Lamb of God, I always thought the whole screaming thing was there to compensate for lack of talent. I then was forced to listen to Lamb of Gods “Ashes of the Wake” and I will say I was impressed. Though I am not totally sold on the vocal styles and the ideas behind them I still feel like they convey an emotion of some sort which I feel is rather important. The album begins with the well known song “Laid to Rest” (another Guitar Hero song) though powerful I thought it truly lacked the extra one two to be considered greatest thing ever as some put it to be. Don’t get me wrong its is a great son but not as good as some of the other tracks on the album, like the next song on my highlight reel “Omerta” which begins with a great speech about laws of life. With a driving beat and great heavy drum part I would put this up as one of if not my favorite song of the album.  With a great breakdown toward the center that crescendos towards a great ending. My finally song I really like on this album is “Ashes of the Wake” which has a very odd speech that has an odd Iraq overtone to it, the song starts and is constantly elaborating on it self, mostly instrumental the feeling of the overall song is one of anger. Overall it comes in second for favorite song of the album. Though overall I think at points some put Lamb of God to high up there as greatest Metal band of all time, they have their share of both hits and misses like every band.

4 of 5

Lamb of God "Ashes of the Wake"

For my final review I chose to look to the future of metal and a small outfit out of my home state of Pennsylvania, August Burns Red. Originally I was planning to talk about their second album Messengers but started to listen to their first album Thrill Seekers during my trip out of state and grew more and more fond of the structure of the album. Opening with the powerful “Your Little Suburbia in Ruins” which then mold into a set of three really powerful and well molded songs, the speed dips up and down as the album elapses in and out of its own mold. The next highlight of  the album is “Barbarian” that opens with a great drum beat that molds into a great speed beat that just seems never to want to back down. The singer grow more and more intense overtime giving off almost a violent tone to himself leading many including myself to be intimated by him. The final highlight of the album is to date one of my favorite songs I have ever heard, “The Seventh Trumpet”, I first heard this performed by a kid at my school and thought it was just a original. I  later asked him what song it was and if he had copyrighted it because it was so good, he then told that it was just a cover. I then and went and listen to the original and I was stunned, the song gave such a raw feel and attitude and also had the greatest breakdown ever. At one point it quiets just for the lead singer to quietly whisper “and the stars begin to fall” that line put chills down my spine. I really could not explain to this date why it did that other then it just brought up an image of nuclear weapons and missiles. It a song that I will never forget and that in some way would get a place in my mind. If you have never heard of them or never thought of listening to them give them a try. To this date they are still I feel the future of Metal as both a genera and driving force in music.

5 out of 5

August Burns Red "Thrill Seekers"

So after this great journey I feel that I should try to better understand Metal as both a genera and an art form, I now need to go beg the music gods for forgiveness and hope they don’t smite me.

Smiting

-TheInsider9





Blind Melon Returns

19 05 2008

After eleven years of nonexistence following the death of lead singer Shannon Hoon, the jam-band Blind Melon has recently (2006) reformed with a new singer, Travis Warren, releasing an album in 2008 entitled For My Friends.  Although many Melon fans were skeptical concerning the prospects of an album (and a singer) that could rival Hoon’s former genius, I for one was not dissapointed.  This album avoids a complete rebirth of the old band, and takes the listener down a new musical path.  Taking on a slightly darker, fuller, punchier tone, the new Melon songs are much more in-your-face than many of the older recordings.  Some of my personal favorites off of this record include “For My Friends”, “Down on the Pharmacy”, “Harmful Belly”, and “Last Laugh”, all displaying what I consider to be excellent songwriting and musicianship.  That being said, I believe that the lyrics of many of the songs on this album leave something to be desired.  Some of Warren’s lyrics sound underdeveloped, a few bordering on the cliche.  This is something that Shannon did not struggle with in the least, and for this reason I believe that the old and new versions of the band cannot truly be compared.  They are two different entities, and must be treated as such.  Overall, however, I thought that this album was quite good, and definatly deserves a listen by both old and new fans alike.

4 out of 5

blackalpaca       





The Cat Empire- “So Many Nights”

17 05 2008

The Cat Empire, a six peice band from Australia without a guitar, have recently released their new album, So Many Nights, in the Unites States. With this album, The Cat Empire really made an attempt to branch out from their usual party style, and I believe that they successfully acheived this task. Although some older fans may be slightly put off by the wider range of music on this album, it is in no way a technical or musical let down. Stand out songs such as “So Many Nights”, “Fishies”, “Radio Song”, and “Strong Coffee” are sure to delight older fans of the party style. “No Longer There” and “Panama” both demonstrate the ability of the band to produce excellent ballads, while “Sunny Moon”, “The Darkness”, and “Wanted to Write a Love Song” all show new facets of the band, always at their best. Over all, I would say that this new release is a definite triumph for the Aussies, and I cannot wait for their next release.

5 out of 5

blackalpaca





So Many Items So Little Time

14 05 2008

So to start off I would like to say that we are now planning on releasing a review every Friday. So now that that’s out of the way let’s get to the thing you’re all here for, the reviews.

So first on this review list I am going to talk about LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled album, which is one of the coolest album I have listened to in a while. LCD is made up of 4 members, but it is mainly focused on James Murphy, the lead singer for the band. The group chooses to mix elements of disco and club music, and they have this Daft Punk sound minus the sorta android voices. The opening song for the album is “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” which has a cool beat with the same cool vocals. By starting the album with such a chill song, LCD sets the tone for an overall relaxed record, with no in-your-face songs. I would say that the band is totally an Acid House band. The same beat over and over can be boring to some but others in a certain mind set can feel different ways about it. I also think that LCD is rather creative with their mixes and songs, and that they are a breath of fresh air for the House music group. While I am not the biggest fan of all House music I still love LCD Soundsystem and their first album is great!

4 out of 5

LCD Soundsystem Cover

Next up is Arcade Fire’s “Neon Bible”, which I will admit that I am a little late reviewing, but I agree with some things that others have said. I think the album is great but I don’t think its the second coming of god in the way of music. The album starts with rather simple, melodic tracks. The opener, “Black Mirror”, is a slow, sort of building track that ends suddenl. The only song that seems not to follow a similar pattern is the title song, “Neon Bible”, which is just a slow soft ballad. I interpreted it almost as regretful, like the singer wanted to take something back. The album, while staying somewhat monotone, also manages to test the listener with an up-and-down ride . While I won’t talk a lot of trash about Arcade Fire they seemed to hype this album to no end. I feel like the album is great, but not the best thing to ever be produced. Overall it’s an innovative, but not fantastic, album.

3 out of 5

Neon Bible

And now to transport you back to when post punk was cool and one of my favorite albums ever was released, At the Drive-In’s Relationship of Command, which I feel is one of the best albums ever. To start, I will say out-right that I am a huge fan of the Mars Volta and At The Drive-In and not so much a fan of Sparta (though I would really like them to get back together anyway). The album starts off with a bang with ” Arcarsenal” and continues its speed until it reaches “Invaild Little Letter Department”, a slow ballad dedicated to women murdered and raped in factories on the borders of Mexico and the USA. The album continues towards a climax, with “Catacombs” ending the album with a bang. Some complain that At the Drive-In is a little too distortion heavy and, that they use it to hide their lack of talent. To counter that I would point to At the Drive-In’s spin-off, The Mars Volta, whose skills are unequaled in my opinion by any modern day guitar gods. Cedric and Omar are some of the most talented and innovative people in the music industry. This album set the seed that would grow into one of my favorite band ever, The Mars Volta.

5 out of 5

So that’s all for now thanks everyone see you soon!

-TheInsider9