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Posts Tagged ‘review’

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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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: Soul Calibur IV (Xbox 360)

Posted by rapaleeman on August 20, 2008

So I finally decided to spend some money and get a new game.  I was really bored and skate. is getting old though I still play it online.  I decided to buy the new Soul Calibur game since I loved the originals and the last one I played (number 2) stayed in my system for months.  Well, not this one.

I rarely make a bad decision when it comes to games and this wasn’t a bad decision, just a hasty one.  I wanted a fighting game and with the added Star Wars characters this seemed to be the perfect game.  It’s not, though not a bad game by any means.  Mainly stale.  Read on if you will.

So I fired up SC4 and started to battle.  I realized the same tactics and button mashing tricks from the past worked again here and that the same unbalanced characters were back.  Kilik is a tad slower, but considering how strong he is, he staggers almost any opponent damn near every hit.  Same can be said about many other characters, though Maxi is a weak tool now.  Yoda, a cool bonus character is broken.  He can’t be grabbed and honestly has terrible combos, though his force powers are pretty good.  Same with The Apprentice from the new Star Wars: The Force Unleashed game (demo coming tomorrow, yeah!!!!).  He is a little more balanced but is just Mitsurugi with a new skin and style with a little bit of force thrown in.

Anyway, as you can tell the characters are the same.  I wasn’t too happy, but at least I don’t have to relearn the entire game.  The characters do look great.  Gorgeous graphics and little to no aliasing.  Background are pretty and actually believable in terms of settings within the Soul Calibur world.  Though the chesticles on most of the female fighters are way too big to be effective in combat and cause a few of the fighters to be horribly misproportional.  But I digress.

The story mode is short.  5 fights.  That’s it.  Arcade mode is short.  8 fights.  That’s it.  The biggies are the online fighting and the tower.  To start the tower is lame.  You can customize your character, but really it is just a different  skin on one of the others and not being able to create a custom Jedi is bullshit.  The online play is absolutely phenomenal though.  Almost no lag, full voice, and other than the spammers and people who only pick the same damn fighters it is great.  Good community too.  Not like Halo or Gears where it is a ton of little kids.  I think the average age is more like 16 instead of 12. 

I’m not going to drag this on anymore.  The game is good.  It is just really the same as the other incarnations and really the Star Wars characters are a desperate gimmick that I think I sorta fell for.  Not ashamed or pissed off since I’m going to continue to play online, but really this game isn’t worth $60 of my hard earned money.  Look for a price drop soon.

INDIFFERENT

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Review: Sidekick LX

Posted by rapaleeman on August 19, 2008

So the Nokia I bought off the internet was not exactly new and as such I was unable to unlock it.  I’m taking care of the matter, but that did not help me this weekend.  I needed a phone.  So I said eff it and I bought the LX.  I know, $400 cash for a phone is a tad steep but damn is it not actually worth it.

So I have previously owned a Sidekick 3, Sidekick iD, Sidekick 2008, and now a Sidekick LX and the LX is the best of the bunch.  I opted not to spend the extra 50 on the Tony Hawk model.  It looked cooler and all, but not worth fifty bones.  I bought Soul Calibur IV instead.

I’ll start with the first thing that people will see: the gorgeous 3 inch screen.  This thing is absolutely amazing.  It is made of the same tech that the Sharp Aquos TVs are made out of and it shows.  Clean, crisp, and surprisingly thin.  The screen is easy to read and makes reading even the smallest fonts readable.  Amazing.

The next thing is the form factor.  It is typical Sidekick (meaning held like a PSP), but the thing is so damn thin. From the front it looks huge what with the giant screen and flanking controls, but seriously, rotate this thing to the side and you won’t see much.  With that said it is still physically big in you hands and easy to hold up to your ear.  The controls are dead on and not as small as the buttons on the Sidekick 2008 which were almost too hard to press/find by feel.  The only button issue is the easy to press keys on the spine.  I have accidently turned the speakerphone on more than once.

In all though the feel of the phone is great.  The keyboard hidden under the is the best on any phone.  Hands down.  Perfect.  Plus, the phone doesn’t have that cheap Feeling of the 2008 version.  True the shell doesn’t come off, but the rubberized back is sweet and makes it easy to grip.  Plus the camera is in a little better spot.  I don’t keep putting my finger on the lens.  It just feels better overall to me than the 2008 did.  Easier to use and hold.

Ok, so I haven’t received the update yet, but even without it the phone is still worth it.  The camera, though less resolution, takes slightly better pictures and has an almost too bright flash.  It is speedy and while it has less RAM than the other models, it hasn’t skipped or locked up on me yet.

The software is again, typical Sidekick/Danger.  Everything is easy to find and use.  Plus with the Jump/Menu button shortcuts, life is a breeze.  The catalog is still there, but custom themes are cool.  I put the Tony Hawk one on.  It is sweet.  Also the e-mail, IM, and music player are sweet as well (thank you for the 3.5mm headphone jack).

I’m not going to keep beating the dead horse.  This is an awesome phone.  Period.  Quality, usability, and just overall form factor make this worth owning.  If you text a lot and need a powerhouse of a phone without all the Windows and Blackberry nonsense then this is it.  True it is a little bigger than the Sidekick 2008, but it is easier overall to use and has a sexier screen.  Definatley worth it.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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