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Posts Tagged ‘recommended’

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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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: Sega Rally Revo (PS3)

Posted by rapaleeman on August 12, 2008

So I’m a huge rally racing fan.  Everyone who is an avid reader of my so called “home on the web” knows this.  I loved Sega Rally back on the Saturn and the Dreamcast, but when the demo for this game came out I just sorta let it go and wrote it off as a lame cash in.  Well, I was out last week and found a copy brand new for under 10 bucks at Circuit City and did I make a smart investment.

Let me preface this with saying that at $60 bucks this game is not worth it.  There just isn’t enough content.  However, for $40 or less, worth every penny.  I wish I would have bought it sooner.

So, if you’ve played DiRT or the previous Colin McRae (RIP) games then you know what simulation rally racing is.  Well, forget it.  This is closed circuit, racing with rally embedded.  At least that is the simplest way to describe it.  You run 3 laps and start at the back of the pack.  Every time.  Get used to it.  Things don’t change.

As with most Sega Arcade games from back in the day, this console title was made with the same quarter crunching, punishing difficulty (anything after Amateur is a challenge) as its parents.  Which makes it really nostalgic and just flat out fun. 

The races and cars are very fast, with bright beautiful landscapes and gorgeous terrain to traverse.  The backdrops are almost breathtaking and the cars look great, but take no damage.  This isn’t a sim so it’s ok.  The greatest feet however, is the track themselves.  They are outstanding.

The track deforms as tires go through it and it changes depth based on the appropriate surface type you are currently on.  This leads to some strategy after the first lap.  Should you follow in the tracks of the leader for better grip in the snow, or should you take to the outside of the proper line and powerslide through.  Your call.  All in all, this is an awesome addition to an otherwise standard Sega racer.

Other than a few different leagues and a minimal set of cars and liveries, that’s it folks.  Not much depth in terms of content, but the racing is oh so sweet that it almost doesn’t matter.  Each race is edge of the seat excitement and I mean that.  Even the amateur races.

The only other minor flaw, besides content is the track deformation.  While yes it is awesome, visually you can see it pop into view towards the final lap.  A minor issue, but a big visual flaw to an otherwise perfect game.

Oh and I forgot to mention the mud, dust, dirt, and snow that gets kicked up onto the car.  It is awesome.  The cars take on the elements as need be based on how much dirt and crap you flow through and if you hit a puddle, will actually wash off.  It looks amazing and with the almost surreal environments put a realistic spin on this arcade game.

So what’s the verdict.  Well if you can get it for under $40 then buy it.  Worth every penny.  Not enough content is the only complaint, but what is there is great.

RECOMMENDED

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Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Posted by rapaleeman on May 28, 2008

Let me preface by saying that yes, I am an Indy fan.  Even with this fact out there this review is not going to be pretty.  Onward we go.

So this is the fourth movie in the Indy franchise (I refuse to re-type the title and I am too lazy to cut and paste, deal with it) and with that comes the typical swashbuckling crusade on dry land that Dr. Henry Jones Jr. is known for.  There is action, comedy, drama, suspense, well maybe not the last two.

The best parts of the movie are when Indy is on-screen being Indy.  He is and always has been a wise-cracking super smart professor that would get himself way over his head.  That runs true here and to be honest it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Sure there are some sweet action scenes and the stunt doubles do a fairly decent job, but the chase through the jungle is terrible and the pivotal scenes are just so far out there that it completely hangs itself with what little bit of Indy’s famous whip there actually is in the movie.

Without giving anything away this movie is out there.  Both literally and metaphorically.  This particular franchise has always suspended belief, but not reality.  Most of the ideas behinds the movies are soild facts with a paranormal-type of explanation.  It’s what made them fun (like the first National Treasure movie, but not the second, it was terrible).  Essentially you could legitimately believe what was happening in the film and play along with the Jones as he discovered what the hell was going on.

Not in this one folks.  I got lost about 20 minutes in and the opening of the movie is just crap.  It doesn’t even feel like an Indiana Jones movie.  That doesn’t start until almost a 1/3 of the way in.  Part of the issue is Spielberg and Lucas thinking bigger = better.  Not here it isn’t.  There is so much CGI that this is just unbelievable completely.  Did we need CGI in Star Wars and Transformers?  Yes since they were both fantastical (is that a word) franchises.  Not in Indy.  Practical has always been better (hence the Experience at MGM Studios) and when the stunt doubles are going at it I was glued to my seat.  When the waterfalls and random Mayan dudes show up I was counting down the time for the credits.

Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones.  No question how old he gets, he is the man.  Much like Stallone is still Rambo and Rocky, or Bruce Willis is John McClane, Ford pulls off the age well, though he does sound a little more cynical with his speach.  I swear I heard and saw Han Solo for a few minutes here.  Not a bad thing, but definately uneven for such a great actor.  Shia (however you spell his name, the kid from Transformers and I,Robot) is not that bad as, well I won’t spoil it but if you think about it, you already know who he is and why he is in the movie.  A few others make some good extended cameos from the previous films and some of their dialogue with the Jones is actually great.  The only problem is Cate Blanchett.  Great actress, terrible role.

I think that is the whole problem with this film.  There is so much you can do with this franchise and honestly they didn’t know what direction to take it in.  Do you stay grounded, or go bigger?  The dynamic duo tried to do both and in term almost ruined the film for me.  The last five minutes are epic (and they don’t have any action in it go figure) and will make you grin and at least feel somewhat ok that you just sat through one of the most ludicrous movies you have ever seen. 

If your an Indy fan your going to see it.  Shut up, you are.  I’m tired of people saying they won’t.  You will.  The question is should you?  The answer is yes definately since even though the chapter in this saga is really bad, the ending to the story (or is it?) is really worth it.  You learn about a few key characters and why Indy is who he is.  Also how much his father has actually impacted him in his present life.  It’s weird, Connery isn’t in the movie (not really) but his spirit and precense is all over Ford and his character.  Ultimately that is why you should see this movie.  Indiana Jones.  The man named after the dog.  Dr. Henry Jones Jr.  Part-time professor, full-time badass and explorer.  He as a character evolves here much like Rocky Balboa does in the movie of the same name.  Old, but not too old and never forgetting who he once was and who is now.

This is getting a Recommended for that fact.  Not because it is a good movie.  It really isn’t, but because of the spirit and characters it contains.  And to be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing Indy back for number 5 if only to allow for him to finish on a high note.  This franchise deserves that much.

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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