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Archive for April, 2011

CD Review – Thursday

Friday, April 29th, 2011

No Devolucion

Epitaph Records

Ever since Thursday came out with their major label debut Full Collapse in 2001 they were hailed as one of (if not the) best hardcore/screamo bands around. On this, their fifth full-length album, they take out most of the scream, but the musicality and melody is stronger (and heavier) than ever.

“A Gun in the First Act” is Thursday (and lead singer Geoff Rickley) at its finest with a heavy and ultra-catchy track that even includes some of the screaming that is ellusive on this album.

Thursday seems to focus more on melody as they slide farther from the screamo and closer to prog-rock, a transition that they not only fully embrace, but thrive in. “Millimeter” and “No Answers” are the best examples of this.

This album not only reintroduces Thursday to the masses, but many will find a musicality that the band has always had, but was hard to find among the chaos of their previous albums. This changes everything for the band…for the better.

http://www.thursday.net

CD Review – Bowling for Soup

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Fishing for Woos

Self-Released

The pop-punk pranksters are back with more mischief on their first independent release after breaking off with Jive Records and they don’t hold back on this 15-song laughfest.

They wear their obsessive stalker gear with hilarious results on “Dear Megan Fox,” while they take a positive tone on the lively “My Girlfriend is an Alcoholic.”

“Evil All Over the World” is basically about how girls are evil regardless of where they are, because “They always want your money/They always want your time/ Their body is a weapon/ And they’re messin’ with your mind!” They do qualify it with the bridge of the track where lead singer Jaret Reddick says that “We wouldn’t be here without [girls]/ Because even your mom is one…And moms are evil!”

The best track, however is “Here’s Your Freakin’ Song.” Reddick blasts an ex-girlfriend who rags on him about writing her a song, which he makes sound like it took about five minutes to write and record. The chorus pretty much says it all: “You talk to much/ You never shut up/ Everything I do for you is never enough/ You snore, you drool/ You talk in your sleep/ Won’t get a night’s rest until your six feet deep/ I promised you forever/ But we both know/ We’re never gonna get along/ You want it! You got it!/ Here’s your freakin’ song!”

So for all you Bowling for Soup fans, you will love this. The band is on top of their game. Fishing for Woos made me laugh out loud several times and frankly, it’s just friggin’ fun. But that is what they have been known for for over a decade.

http://www.bowlingforsoup.com

CD Review – Empress Hotel

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Empress Hotel

Park the Van Records

The debut EP from Empress Hotel harkens back to the 70s groups like Ace and The Dwight Twilley Band. Complete with Casio keyboards, the occasional female vocal (by keyboardist Julie Williams) and a dose of cajun, this New Orleans-based group introduces the world to a decent, but not spectacular sound that is perfect for those that love artists like The Byrds and even Bill Withers. Empress Hotel isn’t that good, but they have only released five songs. I don’t expect that much. “Search Lights” sounds like something that Withers would have recorded back in the day while “Empress Hotel” (yes, the album, group and song are all the same) is rather forgettable. They are a bit uneven, but once the edges are smoothed out, they will be vying for “The Best Band to be Teleported Straight from the 70s” award with current title-holder The Mooney Suzuki.

http://www.empresshotelmusic.com

CD Review – Fredrik (Swedish electro-folk)

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Flora

The Kora Records

Fredrik is not a group that I instantly liked. In fact, I listened to their second album Trilogi and hated it. This was not a casual dislike; I placed it in my Top 20 Worst Albums Ever pile. So when I received this, their third album, I was pissed. I couldn’t believe that anybody would want to hear another torturous album from this Swedish trio. I put it in and initially, I had the same reaction. The oft-kilter electronic beats along with some haunting vocals interspersed just made me cringe. Then a strange thing happened. Like a metamorphosis, I started actually paying attention to the music. The intricate instrumentation and the carefully-placed vocals were starting to drag me in like the lure of a stripper taking you to the back of the club. You know you shouldn’t go there, but your body has other ideas. I didn’t want to hear this album from Fredrik, but my ears thought differently. By the close of the album, I was ready to press play again. I felt like I was going against my morals, but I just couldn’t help it. So, take a listen for yourself and get pulled into the world of Fredrik.

http://www.frdrk.org

CD Review – Ivan Julian (formerly of Richard Hell & the Voidoids)

Friday, April 8th, 2011

The Naked Flame

00:02:59 Records

From the first chords of the opening song “The Waves,” it is obvious that Ivan Julian was a part of the ’70s punk rock movement. He was a founding member of Richard Hell & the Voidoids and was a key songwriter on their classic album Blank Generation. On his first solo album in 20 years, Julian sounds as if he has never left the late ’70s. The title track is equally thrashing and sweet, all the while Julian sings (almost like a poor man’s Jimi Hendrix) about how he wants to “get close to the naked flame of your love.”

That lyrical prowess is prevalent throughout the album with standout lines like: “Wack politicians scream from posters/ Their slicked back hair out-shines the roaches” from “Constricted,” and “Watch the rich and poor, collide for a free ride” from “Sticky.”

Ivan Julian sings with a wreckless abandon that harkens back to Mick Jaggar from the ’60s. His vocal swagger and musical chops combine for an album that will blow you away.

http://www.conqueroo.com

CD Review – Kate Jacobs (A folk-lover’s dream)

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Home Game

Small Pond Music

Kate Jacobs is a great storyteller and her fifth album proves just that. The sweet almost elevator quality of “On My Monitor” showcases her inner bossa nova (courtesy of her childhood addiction to Stan Getz’s Jazz Samba).

The title track is a beautiful ballad that includes the line “You’re the one I’ve been waiting for,” about having a baby is punctuated by the cry of drummer Paul Moschella’s daughter at the end of the song. “Jesus Has Been Drinking” is a great waltz about a man who Jacobs has seen wander the main drag in Hoboken, NY every day for 20 years.

This is her first album away from the Bar/None Record label and the first after leaving the biz for a while to start a family. While this may hinder some, Jacobs used her new “Mom” title to make her best album to date. This is a perfect coffee house album while still feeling like home.

http://www.katejacobsmusic.com

CD Review – The Tunnel (Soundtrack to a bunch of dark movies)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Fathoms Deep

Self-Released

The Tunnel’s second album reminds me of a lot of different movies. “Fathomless Deep” could be the backdrop of a scene set in a seedy, foggy back alley in London.  “Strange Haven” would be right at home on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

“The Beast-Catcher” sounds a lot like the anti-folk of The Butchers and The Builders with the half-sung vocals of Jeff Wagner and the cryptic and semi-tragic plot: Trying to catch a “beast” (my guess is the Chupa Cabra) in an old Mexican city. “King of the Impossible” has a distinct Queens of the Stone Age feel.

After listening to this album, you’ll come away from this feeling a little dirty and probably a lot drunk.

http://www.thetunnelsf.com

CD Review – Josh Freese (drummer extraordinare gets his letter on)

Friday, April 1st, 2011

My New Friends

Self-Released

Josh Freese has been drumming professionally since he was 12 and has been on literally dozens of albums, but this five-song EP is a little different. He wrote each song for a specific person and the lyrics are directed toward that person. “See You in 2010 (for Chuck Thomas)” is lyrically like a letter directly to him, while Tom Mrzyglocki gets two tracks (“You and Me and the Tuba Tree (for Tom Mrzyglocki)” and “The Best That I Can Do (for Tom Mrzyglocki)”). The songs are your basic alt-rock with nothing that separates him from the hundreds of other alt-rock artists, but the way that he promoted the album was. He had 11 packages (ranging from $7 for the digital download to $75,000 for a month with Freese complete with trapeze lessons from Robin from Nine Inch Nails, cruise Hollywood in Danny from Tool’s Lambroghini and have Josh be a part of your band for a month, among numerous other things). The packages are a truly original way for his fans to connect, with Josh, but you’d have to be a real fan to listen to this EP more than once. There’s nothing special here.

http://www.joshfreese.com