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Archive for the ‘Music Reviews’ Category

Review: 311 – Uplifter

Posted by rapaleeman on July 1, 2009

So I got the album a week ago (yes, I actually bought it).  Is this the ultimate 311 album or is it another “Don’t Tread On Me”.  Let’s find out.

So as you may have guessed, I hated “Don’t Tread On Me”.  Not that great of an album.  Only the title track and “Solar Flare” were worth a crap to me.  The rest was just average to below-average filler.  Not the case here.

To start I just saw them live at a great show at Nissan in the V to the A (Virignia) so this may be a tad skewed.  Same with the fact that they are one of my favorite active bands in existence today.  So as I try to remain objective, well, that may now happen.

This is a great album.  “Hey You” is an awesome starter and radio friendly single that talks about their love of music and how it saved their lives.  I can totally relate.  It doesn’t help that it is catchy as hell.

“It’s Alright” is a great follow-up and then the amazingly catchy “Mix It Up” which brings back memories (good ones) of “Crack The Code” from Evolver. 

“Golden Sunlight” is good, but honestly filler to get you to the awesome and song that will definately be a hit with fans “India Ink”.  It is all about how you want it all, but can’t really commit, or are having trouble actually putting yourself out there and going all the way.  Great track and extremely catchy, yet meaningful chorus.

Same thing can be said about “Daisy Cutter”.  “Too Much Too Fast” is just ok, not great.  The amazing “Never Ending Summer” is a perfect opener for their live show (which it was) and has again, a great chorus.

The next couple of songs are ok, not great.  More filler.  “Jackpot” is what fans have been asking for though.  A new anthem-styled powerhouse track in the name of “Down” or “Hive” from the Blue Album.  Powerful and just gets you moving.  I really want to break stuff while I listen to this track at my desk here at work.  Great song.

“My Heart Sings” is a good closer.  Almost as good as “Sometimes Jacks Rule The Realm” but not quite.  The 2 bonus tracks are really good, but “Get Down” sounds almost exactly like “Daisy Cutter”.  What the hell?

Overall, this is a great album.  It is definately getting a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me and most fans I think will agree.  At least those that realize that Hexum, SA, P-Nut, Tim, and Chad will never be teenagers again and write stuff like “Omaha Sylee” and “All Mixed Up” again.  311 has grown up and fortunately I have too. 

My tastes have matured and along with that, I scream for higher productions and more mature lyrics.   Fortunately “Uplifter” delivers on both accounts and 311 has crafted their best album in years.  Not quite up to “Transister” standards (nothing beats “Beautiful Disaster” or “Starshines”) but it is definately better than the Blue Album.  Yes, I said it.  I like this offering better than album that got me into the 311 craze to begin with. 

Go buy this now.  Even if your not a “true” fan.  Who knows, you might like it.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Review: Eyeshine – Red Lights White Stripes

Posted by rapaleeman on March 9, 2009

Does anybody remember the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers?  I do.  Loved that show.  When the crap are they going to release all the originals on DVD?

Oh, what does this have to do with the review you may be wondering?  Well, it just so happens the lead singer is Johnny Young Bosch, Adam, the second Black Ranger.  So how does this stack up with other celebrity rock stars?  Let’s take a listen shall we.

I gotta preface this with saying I expecting garbage.  No offense to JYB, but a celebrity in a band usually is there for some kind of glamour project to stay in the spotlight.  Or to get the band noticed. 

JYB (yeah we tight like that, edit – well not really but I’m typing his name again) is like Keanu Reeves and his band Dogstar.  He is just there.  He wants to rock and seems to really be committed as I’ve seen browsing their forums.  He cares about the fans and himself enough to do what he likes.  Applause for that.  Though I really want to hear them cover the MMPR theme song.  That would be funny as hell.

As for the music, well it is pretty good.  Borderline spectacular in places.  Some of the writing is downright perfect.  The songs are arranged on the album a tad odd and really need to be balanced better. 

For instance, the title track “Red Stripes, White Lights” (my favorite on the album if anyone cares) is the final track on the album.  It clocks in at just over 2 minutes.  Now the length isn’t the problem, it is the fact that the track is their ender.  To me, that should be the intro.  It is the perfect intro to at least 3 of the 4 songs at the beginning of the album.

“Can’t Keep Running Away” the lead off is a perfectly written, catchy track, but a little whiney in terms of vocal delivery.  Same with “Here Comes the End Again” and a few other so on the album. 

That to me is the biggest flaw of the debut album from Eyeshine (the EP doesn’t count).  Some of the vocals are whiny and sound like a really bad Emo singer.  Which is sad because the accompanied lyrics are usually really spot on.  It isn’t a deal breaker, but it is a flaw.

“Let You Down”, my second favorite track is great along with the amazing “Waterfall”.  Perfect songs.  The list goes on “Sunday Flower”, “Come Back Now”, and “Blackout” as well.  Just amazing lyrics and the vocals work on these tracks.  It shows how good this band actually is and can become.

Which I guess is my only real complaint.  The inconsistencies that are shown here will keep Eyeshine off the center stage.  I think the mix of rock and ballads work well to keep the album from getting stale, but JYB needs to get his voice in total control.  Which is really weird since he is a voice actor now (Nero FTW). 

At 15 tracks this is a pretty hefty album.  You definitely get your moneys worth.  If you can forgive the vocal issues and listen to the lyrics/message of each song then you will be in good shape.  This is good stuff.  Unfortunately I can’t go highly here.  I can only go RECOMMENDED.  

I will keep an ear out for their next album.  They seem to be really good guys that can take constructive criticism.  Please don’t get discouraged from the lack of recognition or the minor complaints.  I think  you have all the parts, just a little more refinement and all will be amazing.  I am really looking forward to some new tracks.

RECOMMENDED

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Look, in the sky! Explosions!

Posted by rapaleeman on February 6, 2009

As I said, I was going to be doing things a little different and for the first in that I figure what better way than to share one of the greatest bands I have ever heard.  No I don’t mean Journey, though they are still the greatest.

I’m talking about Explosions in the Sky or EITS.  This post-rock band that I first heard in the movie Friday Night Lights (and the subsequent TV show) has some of the most heart-felt and emotional songs I have ever heard.  Oh, did I forget to mention, the songs have no lyrics.

That’s right, they have three guitarists and a drummer.  That’s it.  With that arsenal of weaponry they have created a truly unique sound that is unlike anything I have every heard before.  The songs all tell stories in and of themselves, but combine these individual tracks with their parent albums and you get a story that is unlike any other.  Highs and lows abound.  This is truly the type of music that pushes the limits of the mind.

Like I said, I first heared EITS in the movie Friday Night Lights.  The background to 95% of the movie had this weird instrumental music that fit the scenes perfectly.  I bought the soundtrack and found that the tracks, while good, were only bits and pieces of full songs from their second and third albums, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever and The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Space respectively.

So I picked those albums up and to my surprise there were only 6 or 5 tracks that lasted anywhere from 6 to 12 minutes.  Despite the length, I didn’t feel any song was too long since they were expertly crafted and beautiful stories.  If anything a few tracks were too short in my opinion.

I want to touch on a few highlights.  “A Poor Man’s Memory” is my favorite from Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever.  It was used in the Friday Night Lights movie trailer and in a few key scenes from the movie.  Not sure if it is the relationship with the amazing movie or not, but the almost military style cadence in the song is phenomenal.  Just an amazing build up and peak that the song just sticks with you.

The entirety of The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Space is amazing.  Every track is great but “Your Hand In Mine” is a standout.  Just amazing.

Their newest album All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone is more of the same, but in a good way.  Never once does monotony set in or you wish the album/song is over.  I have never heard a band crank out 5 albums and there isn’t a stinker in sight. 

Thank you Explosions In The Sky for opening up my eyes to what music can and should be.  Never in a million years did I think that music could affect me in such a way without heart-felt lyrics, but yours has. 

Every one of their albums is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and the soundtrack as well.  Perfect introduction for such a great band.

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Review: Hawthorne Heights – Fragile Future

Posted by rapaleeman on August 25, 2008

So I was asked to write a review of this for a friend.  So after the initial tease the other day here is the final word from me.

To preface, I am a fan of HH.  Really.  Unlike most who write them off as some stupid emo shit that only kids who cut themselves listen too, I don’t.  True in their earlier albums and then so in the new one as well, their lyrics are a tad childish at times.  However the combination of screaming (for emotional effect really) and the singing kept me coming back to their debut “The Silence In Black and White” and their other album “If Only You Were Lonely”.  On to the review.

So upon first playing the record, I heard a really annoying version of the lead singer from the first 2 albums just go on and on.  Not listening to the lyrics, just that painful sound.  See, when their other singer died last year they refused to replace him out of respect.  I can understand that, but when your gimmick is to sing and have a screamer then you need to either not make the record, or write better to make up for it and change the way the songs go.  They only did part of that.

The songs are all well written, I will say that.  They have great meanings and overall make sense in terms of where they are as people (mourning the death of their friend).  “The Business of Paper Stars” the first track seems annoying, but is actually well crafted and has a great hook.  The audience is just missing the contrast of singers.

The same with “Rescue Me” and “Somewhere In Between” just to name a couple.  Great songs, just lacking the dynamic that I signed up for.  Almost like what Linkin Park did by cutting out Mike Shinoda except Mike is still in the band.

“Four Becomes One” is an amazing song though and perfect the way it is.  It is just powerful and when you realize how these guys feel when they lost their friend and how they are coping you will just say “wow”.  Really good track.

And that is really what can be said about the entire album.  It is actually really good.  Well-written and on the whole performed well, just the way they are played.  They are written well, but they are performing the songs as if their other singer was still there.  I expect to hear him scream in some of the weird bits of silence or lack of vocals in the tracks. 

Maybe they needed to do that.  Maybe they still do hear him singing.  I’ll never know, but it is that reason that I can only recommend “Fragile Future”.  The singer’s voice gets kinda annoying very quickly.  If you can get past that though you’ll find a bunch of meaningful, heart-felt tracks that are really well done.  For any fan, it is a must listen.  For others it’s just recommended.

RECOMMENDED

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Review: 3 Doors Down – 3 Doors Down

Posted by rapaleeman on May 14, 2008

It’s been a little while but here is a review of an album I’ve been waiting on for some time.

3 Doors Down is a band that many people know, but in reality don’t really know them.  They hear the name of the band and think of the “Kryptonite” song or “When I’m Gone” which was used, unwisely I might add, to promote the war (well not really, but come on it was admit it).  The truth of the matter is 3 Doors Down or 3DD, is a band that is part rock and roll and then combined with a little bit of politics and social commentary thrown in.  “The Better Life” was like this and so was “Away From The Sun” though many folk didn’t see it that way since they were too busy with their singles and overall great sound.  No one I knew even came close to what these guys were about when they first released.  Hopefully that changes with this album.

After the really weak “Seventeen Days” nonsense they released a few years back, 3DD is here again with a self-titled album (which seems to be all the rage these days) but actually makes sense in their case.  This album is “The Better Life”, more mature and thoughtful.  Yet it still rocks.  Interesting and to be honest I was shocked.  I was expecting an album with a good single and decent tunes, but not this.  No, what I got was an album full of good music that is a great social commentary on the world for the most part.  A great album.  Read on.

The first 3 tracks right off the bat are great.  “Train” is smooth and gets started with a decent bang.  “Citizen/Soldier” is just great.  True it is/was a recruitment song for the National Guard but it is a great song.  It rocks with the hard edge their known for, while still being concious to the bullshit happening in other parts of the world and how it affects those that serve.  The first official single (“Citizen/Soldier” doesn’t count) is “It’s Not My Time”.  Great track and radio friendly with a good message.

The rest of the album follows suit with mostly harder (almost, but not quite grunge rock) tracks than the norm with a couple slow songs lobbed in there for good measure (“Pages” comes to mind).  “These Days”, “When It’s Over”, and “She Don’t Want The World” are great songs that standout on the rest of the album with the remaining tracks providing appropriate filler. 

I know I have praised this to death and must say if you are a fan then bump up the RECOMMENDED to HIGHLY.  Why only RECOMMENDED?  Well, as good as a listen this album is, it isn’t their best work.  That’s what happens when you start out on top (what I meant when wrote the Phantom Planet review).  “The Better Life” was great and their perfect album to date.  If the self-titled had been released first, then this would definately get a HIGHLY attached.  As it stands it is just really, really RECOMMENDED.  To fans it’s a must get though and as stated above it is HIGHLY to them (me included).  

RECOMMENDED 

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