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Fuck You Black Keys (An album review)

Posted by show On December - 9 - 2011

Lovingly Written By: Andy Stewart

Fuck you, Black Keys. Fuck. You.

Fuck you for making 99% of my music collection obsolete with the release of El Camino. Fuck you for making me have to sit through 37 minutes and 42 seconds of you guys reminding me that you’re better than everyone else. Fuck you for only making this album 37 minutes and 42 seconds long you stingy fuckers. Fuck you for giving great interviews that show you’re decent guys who don’t take yourselves serious and give people like me hope that mountain-sized talent and humility can actually co-exist. Fuck you for making me blow my speakers on the first listen through of this album.

Fuck you for making every song so good. Every. Single. One. And not just so-so good, but light years ahead of the pack good. Like, everyone else might as well close up shop and head home good because these guys just showed the world how it should be done. So I say again, fuck you Black Keys.

Most of all though, fuck you for making me immediately impatient for your next album. If El Camino is this much better than Brothers (which was awesome), then the next album is surely going to usher in the rapture.

Fuck.

PS – Fuck you, Danger Mouse, you svengali, mad-genius, never-miss-the-mark mother fucker. Wasn’t Rome enough showing off for one year? For fuck’s sake give your peers a chance to catch up.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Hedley ~ Storms

Posted by JonesK On November - 25 - 2011

Written By: Kristen Jones

Canadian alternative pop rock band Hedley is back with their fourth album Storms.  Produced by Brian Howes, the new album was released on November 8th.

Formed in British Columbia in 2004, the group consists of frontman Jacob Hoggard, guitarist Dave Rosin, bassist Tommy Mac and drummer Chris Crippin.  The band has accomplished quite a bit in their time together including earning three consecutive double-platinum certifications; Hedley (2005), Famous Last Words (2007) and The Show Must Go (2009).  They have also sold over one million digital singles, won Video of the Year at the 2010 Juno Awards and were named one of the top 100 touring artists in the world.

Let me start by saying I honestly tried to be un-biased while reviewing this album; as Hedley is one of my favourite bands.  But Storms is truly incredible and I think whether a fan of the group or not I would still have loved this album.

Storms opens with “One Life,” a beautiful song with a powerful and inspirational message.  This song really hit home with me and after hearing it I took a moment to reflect on my own life; no regrets.

“One Life” is followed by “Invincible” another beautiful song and the debut single off the album.  I first heard this song when the music video premiered on Much Music.  From the moment I heard it I knew it was something special and obviously I was right; the single has currently sold over 40,000 copies.

Storms does have a few more ballad type songs than on past albums, including “Beautiful,” “Stormy,” and “Heaven’s Gonna Wait,” among others.  But the guys do not disappoint.  The music is still unmistakably Hedley, just with a new found maturity and direction.

And for fans that enjoy the more upbeat, fun songs, the guys have you covered too.  With songs like “Young,” “Bullet for Your Dreams,” and “Hot Mess” there is something for everyone on this album.

Storms ends with “I Won’t Let You Go (Darling)” an eight and a half minute long love song.  This emotion filled piano ballad is the perfect ending to the perfect album.

According to Jacob, this album is a record the band spent its entire career working towards.  I completely agree.  Storms is the most honest, sincere and meaningful album I’ve heard in a long time.  Add to that the group’s musical talent and Jake’s one-of-a-kind voice and you have an album that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Hedley has always found a way to connect with their fans on a more personal level.  They’ve done this through their inspiring music and by being relatable all around nice guys.  Storms is one of their best albums to date and I recommend it to fans and non-fans alike.

Hedley will be touring next year all across Canada in support of their new album.  For more information on the band and tour dates visit www.hedleyonline.com

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Misfits ~ The Devil’s Rain

Posted by JonesK On October - 15 - 2011

Written By: Kristen Jones
American punk rock band the Misfits, have released their new studio album titled The Devil’s Rain, on October 4th.  Produced by Ed Stasium, the album is the bands first full-length record since 2003′s Project 1950 and the first collection of all-new material by the group since 1999′s Famous Monsters.

Founded in Lodi, New Jersey in 1977, the Misfits are known for their trademark sound — a blend of punk rock and other musical influences with horror film themes and imagery — and are often recognized as the originators of the horror punk subgenre.  The band’s current line-up consists of frontman and co-founder Jerry Only [vocals, bass guitar and keyboards], Dez Cadena [guitar and vocals] and Eric “Chupacabra” Arce [drums].

First of all let me start by saying I’m not a big fan of the Misfits.  I have enjoyed some of their music over the years, but I wouldn’t consider myself a “fiend” and honestly I never had a favourite between Danzig and  Graves.  With that being said, I have seen what this band is capable of and to me The Devil’s Rain falls short.

The album opens with the sound of drums and a thunderstorm in “The Devil’s Rain”.  For the title track I was expecting a bit more.  It’s a good song, but it had the potential to be great, unfortunately it never got there.

Following the opener is “Vivid Red”, a classic punk track.  I like the energy behind this song, but once again it feels like it’s lacking something.  Next is an updated version of “Land Of The Dead”.  This song was the album’s first single and was previously released in 2009, along with “Twilight Of The Dead”.  Personally I preferred the originals of these songs, with the exception of the newly added guitar solo in “Twilight Of The Dead”.

A few songs I liked include “Monkey’s Paw” with its catchy chorus and the ’50′s style retelling of a real-life murder case, complete with hand clapping and female backing vocals in “Where Do They Go?”.

A few songs I wish I had passed on include “Cold In Hell” and “The Black Hole”.  It’s not that these are horrible songs; they just got on my nerves more quickly than the others.  The album closes with “The Death Ray”, not a great song but probably the best suited track to finish off the album. 

Overall, The Devil’s Rain isn’t a bad album, but it’s definately one of the weaker ones in the Misfits catalog.  The main problem I have with the album is that some songs just don’t go anywhere.  The anticipation builds up just to fizzle out.  The album also never really manages to capture the energy of past efforts.  The songs start to all sound the same and in the end most are just forgettable.

For more information on the band, please visit www.misfits.com or www.misfitsrecords.com

 

Popularity: unranked [?]

Written by: Andy Stewart

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Words that We Were Promised Jetpacks apparently heeded prior to recording their second album In The Pit of the Stomach, which picks up right where These Four Walls left off.  The band from Edinburgh, Scotland comprised of schoolmates Adam Thompson, Michael Palmer, Sean Smith and Darren Lackie deliver a well formed, and extremely solid sounding second effort.

Generally, a sophomore release by a band (let alone a band as young as WWPJP) can fail to capture the essentials that made the debut album a success, not so with In The Pit of the Stomach. The album delivers consistently hard hitting rock that mixes creative arrangements with that same sad sounding lyrics from the first album. There is a noticeable change in Adam’s singing ability throughout the album, where he appears to have more control and confidence in his own voice that eliminates the more uneven sounds that crept up from time to time. For those of you that love his thick Scottish accent, rest easy, it remains intact throughout.

The album opens quite strong with “Circles and Squares”, and roars into “Medicine” (which has a somewhat Arctic Monkey’s feel to it). The album takes a slower pace midway through with songs like “Hard to Remember”, “Picture of Health” and “Sore Thumb” providing less frantic pacing with considerable feeling throughout. Although “Sore Thumb” starts slow it does finish quite loudly and sets the tone for the back half of the album.

Overall the album is an especially strong offering, that does not disappoint; the only complaint is that it dangles the carrot of “what’s next?” in front of the listener. Having found myself disappointed so often with second offerings from bands, it is extremely gratifying to have my expectations met by a group that remains on the initial steps of what could be a long and satisfying career. If they never feel the need to vary from the sound that has served them well on their first two albums, I will have no issue with that.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: DJ Shadow ~ The Less You Know, The Better

Posted by show On October - 13 - 2011

Written by: Andy Stewart

Never one to rush things, DJ Shadow (aka Josh Davis) has never delivered an album in less than 4 years. That said, it should come as no surprise that his latest offering, The Less You Know, The Better, arrived 5 years after his last album.

The extended breaks between albums isn’t as much a statement about his ability to procrastinate, as it is a testament to continuing to live up to his reputation as one of the premier  creator of instrumental hip hop. Over the course of his 15 year career, Shadow has maintained a consistent ability to create mind boggling complex pieces of work that rely solely on rare, unknown, and unbelievable tracks from all sorts of sources, while continuing to push his music to develop.

TLYK,TB delivers what feels like an amalgamation of all he’s learned over the past decade and a half; providing deliciously haunting tracks reminiscent of Endtroducing… (like the opening track “Back To Front (Circular Logic)”) and The Private Press (tracks like “Sad and Lonely and (Not So) Sad and Lonely”) to more aggressive sounds that feel like continuations of The Outsider album (Border Crossing” comes to mind). It’s apparent that he’s not trying to deliver an album with a set tone to it, choosing instead to serve up songs he likes regardless of how they fit together. At times it works, and at times they feel out of place.

The track Warning Call” is a perfect example of a well crafted song, oozing 80′s New Wave attitude, that sounds fantastic on its own but feels isolated from the rest of the album. Which apparently is what he was going for; the description given to Pitchfork about the theme of the album was of “being partly about being stuck overnight at some airport terminal in Dallas and having CNN and Fox blasting my brain out for no apparent reason.”. It’s hard to come up with a better description that that. The songs come at you

When pulled apart the individual pieces are great, but when put together it’s information overload at times. In short it’s a great set of songs, but not my favourite album; it’s merely a collage that provides bits and bites of his abilities that at times works well, and at other times does not.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Lights ~ Siberia

Posted by jennyb On October - 12 - 2011

Written by: Jenny Barton

Lights (born Valerie Poxleitner), the eclectic synth-pop Canadian songstress released her sophomore album, Siberia on October 4, 2011.  After writing a phenomenal debut album (The Listening) that gained Lights a Juno as well as making just a girl and her synth an iconic, household name…it was time for her to take her music to new heights.  The creation of a grittier, dirtier feel to her electric-pop sound is exactly what she accomplished in Siberia with help from collaborators Graham Walsh _ Brian Borcherdt (from Holy Fuck) and Canadian rapper, Shad. Siberia is co-produced by Lights and Thomas “Tawgs” Salter and is released under Universal Music Canada and Lights Music.

The Listening is well-known to have been perfected and carefully timed.  The evolution in Siberia is the feeling of freedom, it is raw and even though the songstress keeps the lyrics in the ‘pop’ genre, she recorded a lot of the album live, showing a clear ‘release’ in her music style. The first song “Everybody Breaks a Glass” almost announces her staining and “dirtying’ up of the perfection she had in her first album.

My personal favourite song on the album is “Flux and Flow”, I feel you can really get the dub-step influence in the song and all in all it is just a feel-good, make you want to move in a relaxed way-kind of song.

Lights is Toronto’s newest treasure, and I can’t wait to see how her second album is experienced and acclaimed by her fans.  To check out Lights and see when she will be going for her Fall 2011 tour, check out her website.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Kasabian ~ Velociraptor!

Posted by show On October - 4 - 2011

Written by: Andy Stewart

To say that the follow up to 2009’s West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum album has expectations on it is an understatement. Kasabian‘s last effort garnered them a two week stay at #1 on the UK Charts, a short-listing for the 2009 Mercury awards, ‘Best Album’ from the Q awards and ‘Best Album Award’ from NME. Not bad for only the second album from a band formed just over 11 years ago.

All that success would leave any band in a precarious position of having to deliver another album, at the same level or better as their previous offering. More times than not, bands are unable to match the creative and critical success of previous offerings. Which brings us to Velociraptor!; an album which finds the band again partnering up with Dan the Automator in what is surely an attempt to recapture the same form from two years ago; a smart move which should exploit his unique production skills in unison with the band’s musical talent.

The first two tracks on the album, “Let’s Roll Like We Used To” and “Days Are Forgotten”, have a very ‘spaghetti western’ feel to them, and seem to pick up where WRPLA left off; clever songs that are presented with the swagger of a band hitting its stride and being acutely aware of that fact. That swagger though is quickly replaced with a sense of calm that leaves the album feeling somewhat tame. That tameness doesn’t mean the songs are not good, quite the opposite. They just feel unremarkable which is disappointing. The band still provides a varied sound on most of their songs, “Re-Wired” and “Man of Simple Pleasures” being two such offerings, which display their diversity; other times show glimpse of greatness, but never quite hit the mark.

Velociraptor! is a good album (some might say great) that definitely builds upon their previous efforts with an expanded confidence and polish to their music. That polish, however, seems to remove a lot of the parts that made the last album fantastic; the near maniacal feeling that some songs evoked followed by completely unexpected songs that were the mark of a band pushing its boundaries. This album is an evolutionary step forward for Kasabian, which will likely garner them even more critical and commercial success, but it leaves out some important parts of the band’s personality. Specifically that disregard for normalcy and a simmering rage that pushed song songs beyond good to great examples of what rock and roll should be. I only hope that those missing parts are not gone for good and will re-emerge again on future albums.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Ohbijou ~ Metal Meets

Posted by jennyb On October - 3 - 2011

Written By: Jenny Barton

The Toronto based band Ohbijou released their highly anticipated third album, Metal Meets on September 27, 2011.  The vocal harmonizing of Casey Mecija (guitar) and Jenny Mecija (violin) combine pleasantly with the instrumental styling of Ryan Carley (piano and synth), Heather Kirby (bass), Anissa Hart (cello) and James Bunton (drums).   Metal Meets is is released by Last Gang and recorded and produced by Jace Lasek.

This anticipated album reflects the band member’s travels ranging from cabin ventures in the woods to adventures across the continents of Europe, North America and Asia.  These life-altering experiences and influences are instantly reflected in the sound of the album.  The experimentation of the different, worldly influences is apparent in the melodic intrigue and playful collision of the “East meets West” sound.  The album is also greatly inspired by naturalistic forces, which are easily imagined while listening to the flow of the album; each song merges cohesively into the other- much like nature emerges from one scene into the next (mountain, forest, river).

The album opens with “Niagara” and builds to the climax of the album (in my opinion), the song “Anser”.   I find this particular song to be the most interesting and powerful on the entire album. In this song the vocals are strongest and at their most playful.

Overall, the lyrics are poetic and unique, such as “Left you in cycle, hanging in a tree, swaying with dead bodies and rusted rosaries”, which resonate thought provocation.  “Metal Meets” is an album that tells a story, a story that is experienced through the haunting vocals and intriguing elements of violin colliding with other orcastric sounds.  Ohbijou is a band that has such a unique offering that their sound is only something that can be experienced.

For information on the band and their tour dates, check out their website.

Jenny Barton is the newest memeber to the Off the Dial team. Check out her personal blog of peoms and stories.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Alice Cooper ~ Welcome 2 My Nightmare

Posted by JonesK On October - 2 - 2011

Written By: Kristen Jones

American Shock Rocker Alice Cooper has released his 26th studio album Welcome 2 My Nightmare, on September 13th.  The album is the much anticipated sequel to Cooper’s 1975 concept album Welcome To My Nightmare.

Welcome 2 My Nightmare was produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin and features an impressive group of collaborators including Keith Nelson, Tommy Henriksen and Dick Wagner among others.  There are also three tracks on the album performed with the members of the original Alice Cooper band.

Welcome 2 My Nightmare begins with the slow and haunting “I Am Made Of You”.  The song’s intro contains the same eerie piano melody that opens “Steven” on the original.  The track is brought to life in typical Cooper fashion before closing with the same piano piece.

Next is the more upbeat “Caffeine”, a catchy song and the second single to be released off the album.  This is followed by “The Nightmare Returns”, a brief transitional piece featuring the familiar piano of the original Welcome To My Nightmare once again.

Up until this point the sound of the album is mainly classic rock, but that soon changes and with the eclectic mix that follows, there is sure to be something for everyone.

Like with the songs “Last Man On Earth” and its big band sound, or the surfer inspired rock of “Ghouls Gone Wild” and especially “Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever”; this song has an unusual techno-disco mix and showcases Cooper’s “rapping” abilities.  Not to mention the great guitar solo at the end played by John5 [Lowery], when the track takes on a more rock inspired sound.

Welcome 2 My Nightmare comes to an end with “I Gotta Get Outta Here” and the closer “The Underture”, an instrumental piece featuring themes and music from both the original and this new album.

Favourites on this album include “The Congregation” with special guest Rob Zombie and “I’ll Bite Your Face Off”, the album’s first single and performed by the original Alice Cooper Band.

A few songs that I wasn’t overly excited about were “When Hell Comes Home”, a disturbing tale about abuse and revenge and the eighties sounding pop-rock duet “What Baby Wants”, featuring Ke$ha.

Overall I really enjoyed this album.  It was well done and felt like more of an experience than a collection of songs; best listened to from beginning to end.  With all the collaborations, genre experiments and dark humour, Welcome 2 My Nightmare is a great addition to any Alice Cooper collection.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Bush ~ The Sea of Memories

Posted by JonesK On September - 21 - 2011

Written By: Kristen Jones

British alternative rock band Bush has released their fifth studio album The Sea of Memories, on September 13th.  Released through E1 Records and Zuma Rock Records, this is the first album from the band since 2001′s Golden State.

Formed in London in 1992, Bush currently consists of founding members Gavin Rossdale (vocals, guitar) and Robin Goodridge (drums, percussion) and new members Chris Traynor (guitar) and Corey Britz (bass).  Former guitarist Nigel Pulsford and bassist Dave Parsons decided not to rejoin the band after an almost ten year hiatus.

The first time I listened to The Sea of Memories, I wasn’t sure what to make of it.  There were more ballads than I’d expected and although a few songs sounded like the Bush I remembered, most didn’t.  After a few listens I think I found the problem, Bob Rock.  It’s not that I don’t like him as a producer; he’s done some brilliant work with other bands in the past.  I just don’t think he has anything to offer Bush; instead he seems to be hindering them creatively [more on Bob later].

The Sea of Memories opens with “The Mirror of the Signs”.  This song has a slight rave feel to it with the mixure of drum beats and synthesizers.  It also reintroduces fans to frontman Gavin Rossdales raspy and sometimes dreamy vocals.

Next on the album is the lead single “The Sound of Winter”.  I really liked this song.  It was a solid track with a powerful chorus and was also one of only a few songs on the album including “All My Life” that actually sound like Bush’s previous efforts.

“The Afterlife” is where Bob Rock’s signature style comes into play.  The song sounds like it would be more suited for a pop singer than an alternative rock band.  It’s not that the song is bad, the lyrics are beautifully written and carry with them a haunting message, but the upbeat chorus ruins it for me.

“All Night Doctors” is a beautiful piano ballad and one of the best vocal performances I’ve heard from Rossdale in a long time.  The only problem with this song is it feels like it was written for a solo record, not a Bush album.

After this The Sea of Memories just continues its downward spiral.  “Baby Come Home” brings back another poppy chorus and an unflattering whine to Rossdale’s voice, while the medium-tempo and lackluster lyrics of “Red Light” just put me to sleep and lets not forget “She’s a Stallion”, this song was so repetitive I literally sighed with relief when it was over.

The album wraps up with yet another ballad “Be Still My Love”.  Let’s just say, if I hadn’t already had a nice nap during “Red Light” this song would have done the job.  While the song itself was well written this was an uneventful way to finish the album.

I understand bands grow and change so I wasn’t expecting another Sixteen Stone or Razorblade Suitcase, but The Sea of Memories sounds less like Bush and more like something leftover from Rossdale’s solo career.  It also feels rushed and lacks the depth and energy they’ve given us in the past.  If they truly want to make a comeback I think Bush needs to drop Bob Rock and find someone who shares their visions and will give them the time to make the great music they are clearly capable of.

Bush will be headlining a tour with Filter and Chevelle beginning the end of September.  For more information on the band and tour dates visit their website www.bushofficial.com

Popularity: unranked [?]

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