With White Lung's debut, It's The Evil, it's easy to praise it to the heavens upon first listen. In fact, it's easy to fall in love after the first song, "Viva La Rat" if you're an outsider (like me) looking for something new and fast to punch you in the face.
The whole record is one fast, relentless jet stream of spitting venom; never once stopping to breathe in, never once stopping to look around. Even you, the listener, will need to catch your flying thoughts after the first listen. But I urge you to let it swirl around for a bit and then go back to it for another round before you make your decision on how much you like it.
These are two minute hit it & quit it punk songs speeding through your neighbourhood without regard as to whether or not you follow. What sets them apart from standard punk fare is the sense of melody painted on the top layer, courtesy of the vocals and guitar.
It should be said that the guitar hooks on each track are creative, varied and full of screeching treble ensuring they punch through the rapid-fire drum and bass. The vocals here are all northwest riot fare from our sisters in decades past like L7 & Bikini Kill to more recent Van City offerings like You Say Party! We Say Die! The operative adjective here (besides "fast") would be dirty, which this band has in full force. The drums and bass are here to keep that pace up at all times, but nothing much beyond that.
So much punk rock is kept at more regional levels and is loved fiercely in tight circles by die hard fans, but occasionally a band will make enough of a bang that the ripples are picked up by mainstream outlets. White Lung appear to be splashing in the pool enough to be noticed and acclaimed outside of their comfort zone. By not sacrificing either speed or melody in their attack, they have provided a notable debut with It's The Evil.
The problem with the record is that it's a collection of standout songs that all resonate with the same formula. Listen to any three songs at random and try to name them without looking first. Reordering the track list in any way does not impact the overall feel of the record, which makes it feel more like a collection of their strongest songs and not a work in and of itself. The fact that the whole experience is only 25 minutes long plays to the strength of the presentation. White Lung strikes you quickly, grabs you by the neck and rams your head into the speaker. They're gone before you recover and you wonder if you'll hear from them again, kind of like a one night stand. Of course, you don't need to hear back from them because the experience in and of itself was memorable...kind of like a one night stand.
Now that you have my attention, with It's The Evil, what will you do with it?
- Catch Denis every Thursday on Dirty Work from 8-10pm.
To say that Defeater is a groundbreaking band is saying little for this Massachusetts five-piece. They combine new, progressive-style hardcore with the old-school punk attitude of using music as a form of political expression. Every song on Travels is a story; the lyrics are poetic and enthralling while the music sets the tone of the tale. Far too often, lyrics are held for nothing in hardcore. So many albums can be chalked up to a few standards including songs about brotherhood, friends are family, respect, and all that other tough guy bullshit. The fact is we need bands like Defeater, a change from the status quo of music as we know it. If you don't like hardcore, you should still consider giving this album a try, it’s a musical poem, a story of man and how we treat each other, a story that needs to be told.
Mat "Runt" Barrot
Abandon All Ships
Fans of floppy haircuts, rejoice! Canada's answer to the bourgeoning synthcore (yes, little Timmy, unfortunately this is now a real subgenre of hardcore music) scene has released their first album, Geeving, and if this is the shit catches on then I will be shocked, dismayed, and unsurprised. The band's mixture of hardcore breakdowns, clubby keyboard lines as well as Autotuned clean vocals is perfect for every ADHD-addled 16 year-old who strives to be understood. Opening track "Bro My God" (unfortunately, the band seems to love the word "bro") sets the tone for the rest of the album: clean production, growls, electronic stutters and a midsection involving clean vocals and keyboards make the band's M.O. apparent.
Mercifully the album's short (10 songs in a little over a half-hour's worth of time) and so sitting through it is not a Dream Theater-tastic task, although these MuchMusic disBAND sweethearts have one major problem: whole song sections could be easily interchangeable with others, lending an air of disposability to the entire record.
I'm going to go ahead and give it a pity point for trying, and a point for trying to mix different styles of music, but apart from the novelty factor there isn't much here to cheer on.
Good Fight Music
The newest album from Madball is a far cry from the 12 year old Freddy singing with his older brothers band (Roger Miret of Agnostic Front, who also does guest vocals on the Empire song "Shatterproof"). Since its inception in the late '80s the band has seen a major line-up change swapping out Agnostic Front members for a dedicated crew. A few members came and went, most noticeably the addition of drummer Jay Weinberg (son of the legendary Max Weinberg) who recorded the album with Madball but was recently “released” from the band. Though the input from Weinberg may have been minimal, the album is a solid effort from the New York Hardcore kings. Crushing rhythms, beating breakdowns and anthemic choruses bring us back to why we love Madball in the first place. On the other hand, this album is not all hardcore; parts of it reminds me of early Pantera, minus Dimebag Darrell.
Run With the Hunted
Destroy All Calendars
Phoenix, Arizona’s Run With The Hunted is a band to watch out for in so many ways. Upon first listening to this four-track album you can quickly hear a difference to all the other bands out there. The technical prowess of the band is a ridiculous amalgamation of heavy and beautiful. The change-ups are confounding and can sometimes switch into math-core effortlessly before the unified anthems resume. The vocalist lends a poignancy to the band to create a new but familiar form of hardcore that will soon devour the world. The sheer desperation, contempt and emotion of his voice is something that few people have mastered in any musical genre, and he seems to accomplish it all while screaming his guts out. Run With The Hunted have signed to Panic Records and will be releasing their full length debut album in the near future, your job is to love them now, before they blow the roof off of the music business.
Mat "Runt" Barrot
Rock music makes for some strange bedfellows. Case in point: The new BXI EP, a collaboration in-between The Cult's Ian Astbury and Japanese noiserock maestros Boris. A mutual admiration in-between the two acts led to the creation of this disc, an uneven collection of four by-the-numbers rock tunes, complete with a cover of The Cult's "Rain".
The consensus after repeated listens is that it's kind of like checking out a series of strange mash-ups. The vocals don't quite match the music, and even at its best (EP closer "Magickal Child") the music and the vocals don't quite mesh in the way that they're supposed to with this format of rather traditional tunes.
Perhaps the band and Astbury were aiming for this very effect when recording the EP, which wouldn't be surprising considering Boris' rather interesting discography. Still, such a strange pair-up is bound to be worth checking out for marquee value alone, although this is geared more towards Boris purists, and not necessarily to the casual Cult fan.
Symptoms and Cures
Testicular fortitude, that’s what Comeback Kid have an over abundance of. Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba this five-piece hardcore act has broken into markets all over the world with their sing-along style. Since the departure of original vocalist Scott Wade, former guitarist Andrew Neufeld took the mic with an unimagined outcome. Neufeld had a voice that surpasses Wade in every way possible. The intensity, frustration, and call for unity coalesced to create this new CBK and fans everywhere collectively sighed. While most hardcore bands continue practicing and refining their abilities until they switch over to playing a more metal hybrid version of hardcore, CBK has gone another direction with the newest album Symptoms and Cures. The new incarnation has all the hardcore you could want with a return to the punk sounds that captivated and unified generations. This is such a perfectly balanced record, the heaviness, melodies, and pure artistry of CBK is one that every Canuck should support. You should buy this album because CBK chose not to sell out and give you the metal tinged HC that is so common lately, and that, kids, takes balls.
Minus The Bear
Minus The Bear is one of those bands that people tell me I should listen to, but I never really get around to doing. You know the bands. Your friend says, "Hey, you should listen to this you might like it," and you agree to listen, but you never get around to listening or you listen to one or two song on a Myspace profile and you never quite hear again. I listened to some Minus the Bear stuff and remembered liking it, but truth be told, I couldn't tell you anything about the couple of songs I heard, so when I was asked if I wanted to review their latest album, Onmi, I thought, "Well, I really should. People have been telling me about them for what seems like forever now; it's time to get this done."
This is the band’s fourth album, and having only heard a sparse amount of things from their previous work, I may not be qualified to say if Minus the Bear fans will like Omni. However, this isn’t going to stop me from reviewing this album. Maybe it makes me more qualified to review it since I’m less biased than everyone else. Or it really doesn’t matter at all and I should just get to the review.
I have to say that I really like this album. It’s a pleasant bunch of tunes that are upbeat and ultimately make me happy to listen to. (Now of course, since I am me, that is going to now be qualified by a bunch of different statements to make this sound like I‘m contradicting myself.) However, I do realize that this album has some faults within its happy confines. I can tell you that it doesn’t have nearly as many weird time signature changes that made previous songs that I’ve heard so interesting. This might not mean much though since I haven’t heard many songs, so I’m not going to go in depth into this point. I think the main problem with this album is that ultimately it’s kind of boring. Many of the songs sounds similar and there’s not too much variation. One songs bleeds into another into another. There’s undeniable catchiness to the album, but it’s a catchiness that is repeated over and over again.
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that for this album the band played all their songs all the way through rather than piece them together in the studio afterwards like on previous efforts.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that they signed to Dangerbird and got a new producer. Maybe they just haven’t taken enough uppers… I don’t know. What I do know is that this album lacks a variety that makes you stand up and take notice, and is also kind of sparse on energy, not making a great album to keep you awake.
But, it’s still a good album. It managed to keep me entertained while I did other things on the computer, and it’s got kind of a, for lack of a better term, "brainless" quality to it, where you can listen and you don’t really have to think too much about it. In addition it really made me feel good in a happy way after listening to it, which most albums don’t really do.
To sum it up, this album is a good album if you want to add some background to your work day, or if you want to relax and listen to something that isn’t going to tax your brain. However, maybe, for everyone’s safety the album should have a warning on it that reads, "Caution: may cause drowsiness. Use caution when operating heavy machinery." Safety first after all.
Comments, critiques, good ideas for preparing steaks: email@example.com
 - http://www.livedaily.com/news/minus-the-bear-tickets-and-tour-dates-minus-the-bear-s-fans-quickly-warm-to-omni-22101.html
Ill Bill And DJ Muggs
Kill Devil Hills
Uncle Howie Records
The days of the rap albums with a singular vision are largely gone. The album-length collaboration in-between producer and rapper is one of a special nature: the marriage in-between words and music, between meaning and sonic space is one of very careful balance. The phenomenon rarely happens in this age of hit-fuelled, star-producer-requiring outings, trading in artistic value for commercial viability when a rapper teams up with a menagerie of hit producers of the minute. So it's a breath of fresh air to see a project as such Kill Devil Hills come about, with the edgy darkness of the beats created by DJ Muggs, balancing out rapper Ill Bill's politically-tinged bars.
Much like he did for the GZA in 2005 with their collaborative album Grandmasters, DJ Muggs returns to man the boards for almost all tracks (the lone stand-out is an interlude) on Kill Devil Hills, creating a murky sonic atmosphere for which Uncle Howie Records spitter Ill Bill can drop his conspiracy-laced rhymes.
Opener "Cult Assassin" sets the tone: dark synth lines and chopped-up drum sample that sounds like a funeral dirge play over Bill's rhymes, chock full of paranoia and conspiracy theories. He even references the track "Doomsday Was Written In An Alien Bible" from his 2008 record The Hour Of Reprisal as the song ends, adding a linking narrative element to his music.
Many of Bill's frequent collaborators appear on the record: La Coka Nostra bandmates Everlast and Slaine appear on the track "Skull And Guns" (which, coincidentally, is also the image that appears on La Coka Nostra's debut album), and Raekwon guests on one of the album's better songs, "Chase Manhattan", a two-minute bank-robbing tale that gives an apt play-by-play as Rae and Bill trade off. Jedi Mind Tricks mastermind Vinnie Paz as well as Sick Jacken, Sean Price and Cypress Hill member B-Real also make an appearance and add their own flavour to a number of tracks.
Muggs manages to keep the atmosphere heavy with grimy drum samples and a virtual army of nasty-sounding keyboards production that while in theory sound boring, does actually manage to differentiate itself enough from song to song to stay intriguing.
Although KDH is a largely satisfying record, the repetition of lyrical themes grates after a while, and the record, comprised of 13 songs and 3 interludes, is just long enough to get its message out before it overstays its welcome, a problem with other Ill Bill releases. We get that he wants everyone to know about The Illuminati and that society is brainwashed, we just don't need to be beaten over the head with the hamfisted approach Bill takes to writing.
It takes an outsider looking in to notice the problems and rectify the issue. Minnesota’s P.O.S. is the outsider and Never Better is the answer. P.O.S. (alias Pissed Off Stef, a name he received while playing in a high school punk band) grew up with a dire opposition towards hip-hop. Eventually he embraced it as an artistic outlet, one that can be done alone. His punk background is pummelled throughout the album with raw drum beats that smash through the album like an AK-47 in a freight train. The absolute hostility of P.O.S. is undeniable, but the direction he sends it is not the common course for Hip-Hop. P.O.S. sends his anger towards multinational companies like Wal-Mart and the capitalist ideologies of other hip-hop acts. This album is new, in every sense of the word. A progress of sound for a new time, we just need to keep up with him.
(Mat "Runt" Barrot)
Guilty as Charged
Years ago someone asked me when I chose to be punk rather than metal. I was absolutely insulted, as if there was a point in my life I wondered if I wanted to follow Sex Pistols or Guns n Roses. Later when I got to thinking about the question I realized that many of the bands I listened to crossed those boundaries. The skate punk of the 80’s was definitely metal tinged, bands like D.R.I., Suicidal Tendencies, Corrosion of Conformity (who are now pure metal) were all bands that I listened to on a regular basis, but I was just under the impression that they were punk. Bitter End’s newest album is not from the '80s and does not make me want to put on spandex pants. What is does do is evoke the killer riffs of those great thrash metal/punk bands that I used to ride my Powell Peralta to. This is no frills rock “n” roll done right.
(Mat "Runt" Barrot)
/\/\ /\ Y /\
Maya Arulpragasam, better known as M.I.A., released her highly-anticipated album, Maya (phonetically spelled out /\/\ /\ Y /\) on July 13th. After much controversy surrounding her "Born Free" music video, with it being dubbed too violent and graphic for YouTube and MTV, many were excited to see what other provocative tales of governmnent corruption she would push through her songs on the upcoming album. M.I.A. has always been known for making political statements, and pushing boundaries. And did not fail to deliver this time around, as she came through with songs like "the message", that sheds light on the links between the Internet and government control. And "XXXO", where she makes clear that she refuses to be anyone she's not. Her songs are hardly musical and far from pleasant to the ears; Some call it "experimental dance music", as she blends hip hop, punk, pop, some type of pitched mumble, and video game effects, to come up with her own signature "sound", which plays into the internet-computer theme of the album, including the title /\/\ /\ Y /\. With release of this album, the 32 year-old rapper/singer doesn't fail to keep her reputation as the "most innovative and dynamic pop star of her generation". Sending strong and evocative messages through her music, M.I.A. targets her mass audience and utilizes her outlet constructively, once again.
(Sarah El Fangary)
Our collective scream for something new has gained such volume that it has crossed the Atlantic ocean and reached England. Punk and hardcore is seeing a re-emergence not unlike the late '70s in the U.K. Bands like The Ghost of a Thousand, Gallows, The Computers and SometimeNever are creating new concepts of Rock “N” Roll that we are steadily devouring. SometimeNever’s newest album Father Hope (due out on August 16th) is a compilation of ideas stitched together to form a cohesive unit. Sub-genres of music are getting far too vast and it seems that every branch that stems from Rock “N” Roll is stretching its limbs in forty different directions. SometimeNever have seemed to put together an album that did not forget its roots. Father Hope has no qualms in branching out with experimentation all the while encapsulating the essential desperation of real Rock “N” Roll.
Mat "Runt" Barrot
Strange Weather, Isn't It?
!!! (pronounced Chk Chk Chk) is somewhat a pioneer of the dance-punk scene and August will see the release of the band's newest album, entitled Strange Weather, Isn't It?. !!! is definitely a band with some chops on them, but after checking out an... umm... advanced copy, I feel that Strange Weather, Isn't It? won't manage to live up to some of the previous entries in !!!'s discography.
My first impression was that Strange Weather, Isn't It? is essentially funk for white people (not that there's anything wrong with that). It has a lot of great guitar and bass parts, but the horns and vocals don't seem quite as into it.
The departure of John Pugh, Justin Vandervolgen and the tragic loss of Jerry Fuchs has also affected the band's sound. !!! has lost so many of the original members, that this album doesn't even feel like it belongs in their catalogue.
Still, if you liked the band's sound before Strange Weather, Isn't It? does hold gems like "AM/FM"", "Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass" and "The Hammer". So at the very least you won't leave feeling hollow.
In closing, good album with some great tracks, but it just doesn't feel like !!! anymore.
Sick Of It All
Based on a True Story
When I first listened to Based on a True Story in its entirety, I could not give the album enough praise. A friend of mine said “what do you expect from the most consistent hardcore band ever?” That got me thinking about all of Sick Of It All’s albums, and I came to the conclusion that they are not at all consistent. This band has been around since ’86 and have been releasing albums since ’89. While almost every album has at least one great song on it (I am hard pressed to find one on ‘92's Just Look Around, though) no album released by SOIA is a standout classic where every song hits home with the same impact. Based on a True Story may be the exception to that case. Every song on this album crackles with more intensity than the last. SOIA have seemed to progress past the formulaic idea of hardcore that they themselves created to make an organic and raw emulsion of hardcore at its purest and most invigorating. Check them out at Foufounes Electrique on September 19th with guests Wisdom in Chains and Mongoloids (+more).
Mat "Runt" Barrot
As readers of the CJLO website will note, we are heavily involved in the promotion of the Fantasia film festival, now taking place. Interested in hearing about what you may have missed? Fear not, our intrepid BVST host Angelica is hosting a number of reviews over at her Tumblr, which you should check out immediately.
I'm not mad... I'm just disappointed. With awesome and venerable expirmenters such as Bjork and the Dirty Projectors I honestly expected for Mount Wittenberg Orca to do something for me. Instead I listened to it and felt cold. This is almost entirely an a cappella album, so any instruments are secondary considerations at best, however, I don't feel that that is a proper excuse for how boring these parts are. The vocal portions of this album aren't much more interesting either. All in all the sound of the album is a lot of a-tonal hooting over mediocre and minimal instruments. The lyrics are all about whales, so that bit is good. Mount Wittenberg Orca has been gaining a lot of critical praises, but honestly it feels like an indulgent and lazy pet project. The product of auteurs who have forgotten to push themselves to do something new, it only serves to reinforce the fallibility of even good artists.
Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair
Occasionally we can get caught off guard by an album. We have become so accustomed to the status-quo of music that when we hear something that pushes the boundaries of contemporary sound we stop listening; I suggest cranking the volume. Punk and hardcore get stuck in a rut at times, band after band releases albums by numbers, a punk rock formula if you will. La Dispute have burned the formula and started from scratch. Take equal parts Jazz; Hardcore; Punk Rock; Spoken word, add a pinch of calculus and you might get an idea of what La Dispute are attempting. The fusion of all of these aspects are overwhelming to think about, yet Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair accomplishes it while leaving you with a question mark floating above your head. The band must realise this, and have offered to stream all of their albums via their website (with 7” available for free download). In any case, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
(Mat "Runt" Barrot)
Ghosts Among Men
Vancouver’s Gravemaker have deftly filled the three major criteria for hardcore album; (1) short, (2) fast and (3) bloody loud! Ghosts Among Men tears through 12 tracks in a blistering 27 minutes of hostile intensity. Previously released through Smallman Records in Canada, Gravemaker have made enough ripples in the lake to have hardcore giants Victory records take notice and sign the band. Though the album can be compared to many hardcore albums released in the recent past, Gravemaker have a uniqueness in their delivery and dirty riffs, occasionally pulling sounds akin to eighties thrash punk like DRI and sharing vocal duties enough to keep it sounding fresh. The true beauty of Canadian hardcore is that is does not succumb to the traditional east coast/west coast vibe that has consumed the genre, instead it creates its own sound with a mix of everything that fits, plus a bag of chips.
(Mat "Runt" Barrot)
Thank Me Later
Aubrey Graham's highly anticipated Thank Me Later has proven to be deserving of all its hype. The Canadian-born rapper, better known as Drake, delivers lyrical and inspiring music and leaves out the drugs and gangsterism. He offers an open and honest look into his personal life and state of mind. Drake chooses truth over fame as his songs mostly depict his climb to success, and how grateful and humbled he is. He shows off his newly-obtained status with siginificant guest appearances on the album. Artists such as T.I , Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz, Young Jeezy, Nicki Minaj and Alicia Keys willingly jumped on board to help bring this album to life. His efforts come through as the album gives his premature success a run for its money. Songs like "Thank Me Now", "Over" and" Light Up" give his listeners a view of how his career took off, and lessons learned through the process. The 23 year-old savours the moment with songs like "Firework" and "Up All Night". His beats are creatively simple yet classic, his flow smooth and enticing and his songs bring back the real meaning of hip hop, poetic and inspiring. The Degrassi Graduate lives the "American Dream" of Hip Hop. Anyway you put it he made it.
(Sarah El Fangary)
Coheed And Cambria
Year of the Black Rainbow
So I have a difficult relationship with Coheed and Cambria. I started listening to them after In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 when I got it from my radio station in the States to review. I thought it was, as we used to say back then, "all that and a bag of chips", and then I listened to their first album, Second Stage Turbine Blade, and was also pretty happy with that (read: "made me so excited I had to change my pants". Think what you will). I then looked deeper into them and found out the whole story that they had about space nerdiness and Monstars and more details then I care to go into here and got even more excited. I mean, here's a band that not only has a concept album, but a whole goddamn concept band with albums and comic books.
They subsequently released Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV: Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, and they got even more prog-rock than their last albums and though there seemed to be some songs that were kind of lacking, I still felt confident that they would be putting out albums that were both cohesive, good with relaying an overarching story, and, most importantly, musically sound.
Then came Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV: Volume 2: No World for Tomorrow. This album, while being easier to type and talk about in name, was a considerable drop in storytelling and musical quality. Not only did the album seem overly polished and poppy, but also, all of they storytelling was now done in the comic books being released as "accompaniments" for the album. It was ultimately a sad day to realize that a band that was so good at what they were doing were getting really lazy at writing and relying on comics as the sole voice to tell the story and then making a shitty soundtrack to accompany that set of comics.
So now I have Year of the Black Rainbow, a prequel to the whole story that's been going on through all the albums and a 352 page novel to go along with it. Before when there was no comics, the music was great, and as more stuff starting getting added with the music, the music itself started to get worse and worse. Following this logic I logically assumed this album to be the worst thing I heard by them, not even reaching the previous 2.5 good songs that the last album had. However, the album really isn't that bad.
It has all the prog-y elements that made In Keeping Secrets and the first Good Apollo album so good. It also has some rockin' riffs that manage to keep me really interested in them. "The Broken" is an amazing song that manages to be a solid rock song and feel pretty epic without dragging on the way some songs of theirs do. The same thing with "This Shattered Symphony", and "World of Lines". These songs, however, are joined by some songs that don't really strike me as being exciting or even really memorable. "Here We Are Juggernaut" was released as their first single and I started out disliking it, then liking it, and now, not really liking it again. Also, the last five songs are pretty boring, and seem slapped on in an attempt to stretch the album out. Putting long songs at the end of the album isn't new for Claudio Sanchez and co., but never has it felt so boring and forced. At least on the last album, as bad as it was, it seemed like it was part of the album, and not a tacked on bit of filler.
The thing that bothers me the most is that I can't tell if I actually like the album or if it is suffering from what I dub as "St. Anger Syndrome". This is when a band (in this case Metallica) releases an album (St. Anger), the worst thing you could ever imagine them doing, usually after an album you like. You feel really let down and truly disappointed by the album. So, then the band releases a new album (Death Magnetic), and you listen to it and think you like it. But the question is, do you like it, or does it just seem so much better than the burning bag of dog feces that the left on your doorstep the last time that you think its good?
If you really like Coheed and Cambria and really didn't like the direction they went with Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV: Volume 2: No blah blah blah blah, then I think its safe to say that you'll like this album. It's a good effort, but not what I had come to expect from the promise set forth by their early works. Though I don't know what they would do now that the story is technically finished I hope they release an album that includes the story and has the type of passion for the story that the first three had. Then, after that they should retire and at least leave a nice solid album that the story deserves. Or maybe just make a new band and start a new band entirely and come up with some other drugged out story. Maybe about a subterranean group of mole people that try to take over the Earth with some kind of alien technology. Well, I don't see you coming up with anything better.
Below The Belt
After 2008's disappointing Never Too Loud, many had written off the Mango Kid and his two musical cohorts as an overtly-ambitious band who tried cramming too many musical stylings into his songs, forgetting that a good hook and some decent licks was all you need for rocking times. His brand of throw-back garage rock got lost in the songwriting cycle, instead churching out an overtly-commercial and well-polished record. If Never Too Loud was its version of the Ramones' End Of The Century, then Below The Belt is its Subterranean Jungle, cutting back the bells, whistles, sound effects and stylistic changes that cluttered up the sonic palette and instead focus on getting back to the rock. Lead-off track "I Think Bad Thoughts" and first single "Full Of Regret" are definite stand-outs from a true return to form. Don't call it a comeback, just call it business as usual.
So Drowning Pool released an album recently called Drowning Pool. No? You don't remember them? They were that band who had that "Bodies" song in 2001 and then their lead singer died. Oh, yeah, now you kind of remember right? Well, they have a new album now. Believe it or not its their fourth album, the third after the death of their first lead singer (whose name is/was Dave Williams).
After Dave died they decided to get a new singer named Jason Jones, who I guess was qualified because as a former tattoo artist, he was either standing around the band when they decided to look for someone new, or he gave them a bunch of tattoos and rather than pay him they offered him a spot in the band. Either way he left and then the lead singer of Soil, Ryan McCombs, who looked around at his band and saw they weren't doing anything, decided that he could sing for them.
This is Ryan's second album with the group, so naturally its probably some great leap forward with the band since they've been touring and writing music together. I'd love to tell you that this is the case, but I really couldn't convince myself that I wanted to go and find the last album and listen to it to compare it to this one. I just couldn't convince myself that I'd done anything bad enough to warrant such a punishment. But what's the current album like?
To be honest, this album is even less than memorable, much like the band itself. As I write this, I'm four songs in and I haven't really noticed that anything has changed. All the songs sound like rip offs of Soil songs, which is like saying, "Hey, let's pick a band to sound like, but not someone good, that?s too obvious. Let's go for someone who no one will notice if we rip off. Hey Ryan, what's that band you're in? Soil? Great, we're going to sound like you guys now."
The album is only 39 minutes long, and therefore is longer than a full episode of Say Yes to the Dress on TLC. Speaking of which, that's just one of the many shows that grab my attention more than this album. Granted, pretty much every show on TLC throws me into an almost incomprehensible anger, but the reason for both is the same. The reason I feel such anger at any show on TLC is that I see no reason why it exists. I mean, who needs to make a show called Extreme Poodles or Toddlers and Tiaras? It's the same thing with a new Drowning Pool album. Sure, you can make it, but why would you want to? The only difference is that on TLC, I become angry because of the stupidity of the whole thing. For the Drowning Pool album, I don't feel anything, that?s how bland and uninteresting it is.
Still though, in both cases the person that really loses is the consumer of these media. That time in front of I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant is never going to come back, just like the 39 minutes that I had to sit through of this boring hard rock. I demand retribution. I propose that Drowning Pool watch a day of TLC programming and TLC programmers listen to a day's worth of this Drowning Pool album. By the time it's over, both sets of them will either died of boredom, become so brain damaged that they won't be able to hurt anyone any more, or will have taken their own lives in a futile attempt to stop the pain. Though this seems cruel, I think it would be best for all mankind, and isn't that a small price to pay?
Holy Fuck, now here's a band that constantly draws flack over its name... Not necessarily because it's obscene, but because people always feel they fail to live up to their mind-blowing promise. Well with the recent release of their new album Latin the flame wars are sure to heat up once again. Why? Because if Latin is anything, it's simply OK.
Holy Fuck is a hard band to pin down, they fall into an odd space between electronic and rock music (the same place my house keys probably disappear to too). However rather than combining the more aggressive traits of each they opt for the more minimal side of each. In the end the product sounds somewhere between shoe gaze and efficient german techno... If Helvetica Oblique had a sound this would be it. It is most adventurous with "Red Lights" (which combines genres well) and "Sht Mtn" (which has some tasty and fuzzy guitar parts).
So will Latin cause you to exclaim in shock and surprise? I doubt it, but it's also not bad enough to be, well... bad. Listen to the whole album and you it might find it blurs together, but if you like white space and straight lines this will go nicely with your morning espresso.
The duo that makes up M.I.A. proteges Sleigh Bells come from very diverse backgrounds: guitarist/sonic architect Derek Miller used to play guitar in notable hardcore band Poison The Well during their most productive years and singer Alexis Krauss was part of pop outfit Rubyglue. The year-old duo joined forces to create Sleigh Bells, a band categorized as... Noise pop. And no, that's not a typo. The band's sound is equal parts My Bloody Valentine and La Roux (and bands of its ilk) – overcharged electro beats, meaty guitars and soaring, reverbed vocals. The sum of the parts, however, are way better than the resulting whole: Treats is a half-hour ride of empty, basic pop music and sonic screeches, disposable and forgettable bits of musicality that are entirely interchangeable. It's hard to deny the record's ability to get folks up and dancing with its many percussive elements, though most would be hard-pressed to tell which song they were dancing to.