Thursday, May 3, 2012

Off the Dial

Music News, Reviews, Photos _ Podcasts

Album Review: the Beatdown ~ S/T

Posted by tzimmerman On June - 24 - 2010

Written by: Thomas Zimmerman

If you like the upside down beat of Reggae, then this album coming from Montreal reggae rockers The Beatdown is definitely for you.  The tracks on this album are like a refined and enhanced version of the music from the legendary Bob Marley, who I think has definitely played a major influence in this band’s style.  It doesn’t really seem to matter what the lyrics are, you just want to move to the music!  Even tracks like “Hooligans” make you want to get up and dance, although I can’t even recall what the song is about.  “Let me take you out” conjures up images of a late night beach party, bamboo torches glowing in the night, the distant rhythmic sound of ocean waves lapping up against the shore, and hot sweaty bodies undulating close together in that intense, slow-moving dance step reserved for intimate couples, or at least those intending to become intimate.  Even “Mad Dog” in its minor key gets the feet shuffling.  I can only imagine that attending a live concert with these guys performing would be one very large, very enthusiastic party.

So, in a nutshell, The Beatdown would be a great party album, keeping party-goers up in the “lets have some fun” sphere until the album finished, and then you’d just have to hit the repeat button to keep it going.  The only danger with reggae and the upside down beat is that it all ends up sounding pretty familiar after a while so maybe you’d have to hit shuffle to take things in a slightly different direction from time to time, otherwise this album is a definite buy!

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Sarah McLachlan ~ Laws of Illusion

Posted by tzimmerman On June - 24 - 2010

Written by: Thomas Zimmerman

Y’know, I thought it would be easier to write a review about some of the more established artists like Sarah McLachlan, but in this case I’d have to say it’s not so easy.  I’m tempted to say…sounds like Sarah McLachlan!  Perhaps it’s because of the uniqueness of her voice that is limiting her, or maybe it’s because the songs all seem to be the same kind of tone, but I don’t seem to hear a lot of originality in this newest album of, Laws of Illusion.  Apparently it’s taken seven years to come up with this latest offering, and sorry Sarah but I don’t really hear anything new.

The messages in the songs are about love, losing love, and expressions of that love.  I suppose in a way I’ve cheated and read an interview with Sarah to find out that in the last few years she’s gone through marital chaos, which I think this album definitely reflects.  Vacillating between intense love for someone, with the “happy” songs even played in a major key signature, and then in the next breath telling of heartbreak and disappointment are the overall themes of the songs on this album.  Laws of Illusion as a title would suggest the difference between perception and reality in all that goes on in relationships, and again I have to say sorry to Sarah, this time not for the album but for the obvious heartbreak and heartache that is an unfortunate inevitability in divorce.

Having said all that, don’t get me wrong; I really do enjoy Sarah’s voice, and if you love her as an artist then you will like this album.  Just don’t expect it to be too different than what you’ve come to know as Sarah McLachlan.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Wildlife ~ Strike Hard, Young Diamond

Posted by tzimmerman On June - 2 - 2010

Written by: Thomas Zimmerman

Wildlife’s Album, Strike Hard Young Diamond has a whole lot of simple yet very catchy melodies and lyrics that make it a hard album to forget.  They seem to have balanced repetition with originality, and that’s a hard thing to do, even for well-seasoned bands that have been playing together forever.  These guys have been together since 2006, and I would expect that they’ll get even better as time goes on.  The commentary they have in their lyrics reflects so much of what is going on in this world today that it’s hard to ignore.

The introduction on the first track “Stand in the Water” reminds me so much of an old Led Zeppelin tune that I just have to like it.  In my opinion, if they were to slow the tempo down just a tiny little bit there would be room for a whole lot more feel in this song.  I like all the different instrumentation that you need to listen for to hear it, and it’s never overpowering.

I like the change ups in “Sea Dreamer”.  There are definite partitions in the song, grabbing your attention well enough that you want to listen to what the change was all about and pull you into thinking about the lyrics.

My only complaint about this album is that the vocals always sound like the singer is on the verge of crying, or at least whining about what he’s trying to get across.  To me, it’s a little bit annoying, but other than that this album is a great mix of Wildlife’s talents, from ambient, atmospheric songs as in “Move to the City” to the punk/ska feel in “American Eyes” to rolling acoustic introductions proclaimed in “Drunken Heart”.

I think just about anybody can find something to like about this album.  With a little more of just playing together and continuing to develop on a really good start, Wildlife is going to definitely be a band worth listening to!

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Stone Temple Pilots ~ S/T

Posted by tzimmerman On June - 2 - 2010

Written by: Thomas Zimmerman

I just finished listening to the Stone Temple Pilots‘ newest self-titled album for the fifth or sixth time, and while I like the overall musicality of it…does it have to be so clean?!?  This album seems to have been so digitally scrubbed, compressed and washed that there isn’t a whole lot of feel left to this kind of music that relies heavily on feel.  Maybe I’m old fashioned, or getting there, but where’s the ambient noise, the stuff you don’t really hear but miss if it isn’t there?  Take a listen to the last three tracks on the album, recorded live and you’ll hear what I mean.  On a recent album I reviewed I heard someone quietly counting in the drummer…okay not the most professional thing to do, but it gives it more of that real life feeling.

Enough of that, let’s get to the actual album.  Even with the digital “errors” this album does have drive and the overall soaring through the sky kinda feel.  I envision listening to this album flying at break neck speed through narrow canyons at sunset all the while struggling to get the straw back in your mouth for another sip of Red Bull.

It isn’t the heavy duty Stone Temple Pilots, but more of a laid back, retrospective band at this point.  A healthy start from what I understand was a good long break, and maybe just a re-introduction into what could be some more really good stuff from STP.  Overall, fans will like this album, just throw a little bit of “dirt” on it to get some more feel!

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Hole ~ Nobody’s Daughter

Posted by show On May - 28 - 2010

Written by: Andy Stewart

Let’s get it out of the way. Courtney Love is a fucking train wreck. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it.  That said, I prepared myself for what was surely going to be a steaming pile of crazy on this album and as it turns out I was wrong.

As much as I’d love to rip into Courtney Love with countless witty barbs about her as a person and how horrendous the album is, I can’t. Mainly because it’s not worth it. This album is the definition of irrelevance. Nothing on this album is noteworthy. It’s devoid of emotion and passion. It’s formulaic. Not awful, just…not worth remembering. Irrelevant.

Need something to compare it to? Think of that band who opened up the show your buddy’s band was headlining. They were alright, but everyone was too busy drinking their beers and finding a good place to stand for the real show to pay any attention. While competent enough to bang through their EP, nobody remembers who they are or what they sung about.

I forced myself to listen to the entire album. Not because I wanted to, but because I didn’t want to miss out on anything in case it actually showed signs of life. After gutting it through the whole thing I can confidently say there is nothing alive on this album. It’s as dead as Courtney’s career.

The good thing about this album is that Billy Corgan doesn’t need to worry that his songs were included on it against his wishes…nobody will remember the album in a few weeks anyway.

Show.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Wintersleep ~ New Inheritors

Posted by tzimmerman On May - 25 - 2010

Written by: Thomas Zimmerman

Wintersleep has developed a very clean cut, laid back album with an underlying current of despondency as witnessed in the very minor chord oriented tracks on New Inheritors.  Interested in getting their message across, the lyrics are very well presented in the mix without overriding the music.  The message?  On New Inheritors they seem to be telling the next generation of inhabitants of this planet not to expect much.  “Black Camera” talks about how people judge without knowing the whole story, “Terrible Man” talking about a man confused about all the different things that go on in this life and his attempt to somehow fit in.  Overall, it seems to be a statement about the general dissatisfaction with life as it currently is and a search to get out of that mentality.

Musically Wintersleep has mixed this album very well.  There is great separation on every system I have in the house, from the fancy 5.1 to the little kitchen attempt-at-some-sound player.  Listening to various tracks brings up reminders of anyone from U2 to The Traveling Wilburys.  A good album to reflect on the current social outlook because it starts you thinking.  Just make sure you offset it with something upbeat later!

Check out the title track on last month’s Off the Dial podcast!

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: the Black Keys ~ Brothers

Posted by tzimmerman On May - 25 - 2010

Written by: Thomas Zimmerman

Analog.

That’s the first word that comes to mind after listening to the first note of The Black Keys album, Brothers.  It’s been mixed almost as if they hung two microphones in a garage and started recording.  Two very well placed microphones that is, and it’s awesome!  They hit it hard, get right into the music, and no wasting anybody’s time with long intro’s.  The vocals remind me of what would happen if B.B. King and Moby ever met…slightly cleaner, better annunciation, but the feel and the soul are an influence in every word sung.  The timing feels real, the beat is genuine, and this album rocks!

These guys aren’t afraid to change the complete feel and time signature of what they’re doing either, as evidenced in the track “Tighten Up”.  It sounds like they went and found just about every classic effects pedal they could get their hands on to get the sound that only comes from using the old stuff, and was that a Hammond I heard on “Ten Cent Pistol”?  Take a listen, it’s in there!  Great album, with a lot of good old fashioned and yet original blues.

If  you like the blues, then this is an extreme definite buy!

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Daniel Lioneye ~ Vol II

Posted by JonesK On May - 24 - 2010

Written By: Kristen Jones

Daniel Lioneye, the side project from members of HIM, has released their second album aptly named Vol II, on April 27th through The End Records.

Even if you have never heard of Daniel Lioneye, you have most likely heard their song The King of Rock ‘N’ Roll, which was used as the theme song to MTV’s Viva La Bam.

The Finnish band features HIM member Mikko “Linde” Lindstrom (guitar, bass, vocals) and Janne “Burton” Puurtinen (keyboards) alongside Black Vomit Bolton (drums), from Enochian Crescent.

Formed in 2001, Daniel Lioneye’s debut album The King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll, was a psychedelic rock LP.  But after the first album Linde wanted to take the second in a completely different direction.  With a slight change in the group line up (Ville Valo was replaced) and always looking to push boundaries, it seems the band accomplished their goal.

According to a press release, Vol II is heavier than the band’s previous album and is being described as “an extreme rock ‘n’ roll album, with influences from black metal.”

Hightlights of the album include “Euroshaman”, “Neolithis Way” and “I Have Never Wanted to Be Number One”.

Linde really composes good songs and he incorporates a lot of genres into his songs.  Overall not what I expected but a fantastic album regardless.

Follow Daniel Lioneye on Twitter or their MySpace page, also check out the bands’ contest to create your own Daniel Lioneye music video and a chance to win a Gibson SG played by Linde while on tour with HIM.  Go to the contest page for more details, www.redmusic.com/lioneyevideo/

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Broken Social Scene ~ Forgiveness Rock Record

Posted by tzimmerman On May - 19 - 2010

Written by: Thomas Zimmerman

How do you gently say “enough is enough”?  I really like some of the ideas on Broken Social Scene’s album Forgiveness Rock Record, but they either couldn’t come up with more to expand on their base melodies or didn’t want to, which would be considered  creative license, but it doesn’t work for me.

This CD is very electronically based, with lots of production evident in the mix.  And while each track does have a different flavor, each track ends up having a repetition that I found slightly annoying.  It would be a good album if you wanted some background going on at a party where no one’s really paying attention anyway, but I wouldn’t buy this album just to listen to it.

One of the things I do like, however, is the varied instrumentation in all of the tracks.  The mix of acoustic and traditional instruments blends nicely with the electronic element, and I suppose this album could find a spot on my “play it on the porch during a laid back evening party” collection.  There just doesn’t seem to be much more energy than that, although I’m sure there was a lot of effort put into the album.  Sorry guys, but it’s not on my top ten list!

Popularity: unranked [?]

CD Review: the Dillinger Escape Plan ~ Option Paralysis

Posted by cristóvão On May - 14 - 2010

The Dillinger Escape Plan ~ An Analysis + Option Paralysis Review
Written by: Steve Moore

We welcome back guest musician writer Steve Moore of the Unravelling and Post-Death Soundtrack as he crafts an excellent break-down of the new DEP album, Option Paralysis.

Most people don’t understand The Dillinger Escape Plan. I think that’s a pretty safe statement to make. Of course, most people live quite low intensity lives, and are used to running away when the stakes are high and the chance of loss is imminent. It can be argued that screaming, and noise made by humans, are in fact human expression; just like laughing, crying, singing, humming, whispering, or playing common scales on musical instruments. Aggression, being well within the realm of honest human experience, is art. It can also be quite useful and constructive – it can contribute to self-belief. Of course, tackling these kinds of sounds and facing these parts of you can be a challenging experience.

The Dillinger Escape Plan, for better or for worse – are fearlessness personified. You get the sense that they are going to take out the Queen, and absolutely no prisoners along the way. There will be no compromises. There will be no discussions. But you at least get the feeling that they’re fighting on the right side. Riled up. Unpredictable. Violent. Relentlessly inspired. Good people.

Not much can be said about their new album except that it serves as a slap to the face of the entire musical world, and a voice that just might say “Wake up, you lazy garage bands! This is real inspiration. You don’t know how to do this properly so quit shitting the bed. People are losing faith!” Their live show sends the same message, inadvertently making their contemporaries look like drunken talent show rejects waiting for Mom’s kool aid after band practise with the boys.

“Farewell, Mona Lisa” was released prior to the album as the opening single, and an album teaser. It tends to mix all the elements that make Dillinger great into one song. The frantic breakdowns and extreme emotion are all in place. The slow march that dominates the latter half of the song is a welcome change of pace for the band. They are also now fusing together the melodic and aggressive elements of their sound together, making for a more epic execution.

“Good Neighbor” takes cues from Black Flag, then raises the stakes. This track is getting into the category of “ridiculously heavy”, and it made me realize that I can’t win Dillinger new fans anymore. At least not by trying to force it on people. It’s simply too loud. Of course, by the end of the track it turns into a full on gang vocal – “Suicide by way of information!” to push it right over the edge.

“Gold Teeth On A Bum” is one of the most ambitious tracks, with inspirations ranging from The Jesus Lizard and Fugazi to even some Alice in Chains and Guns n’ Roses on the later choruses. They keep their signature sound intact while expanding it seamlessly.

“Crystal Morning” could refer to an apathetic music scene. “Cheering crowds deify their waste, Making love to their disgrace” opens the song lyrically. On this track and “Endless Endings” they are mastering a sound that only they can play effectively. They’ve gone so far with it that they’ve left the few bands who’ve attempted to copy them far back in their dust. Let it start, indeed.

“Widower” starts as softly as possible, with a solo voice and piano piece. This, leading into a catchy chorus layered in vocal harmonies, is the Dillinger most people don’t know about – probably because tracks 4 and 5 left them running for the Off button.

“Room Full Of Eyes” would be my personal favorite, both live and on record. After the enemy has already been shamed, let’s push this over the edge. Slow heavy. “Until we die we’re never satisfied. We’ll lust for and feed the dissatisfaction of want and need.” Damn right. They stretch to the complete opposite of their natural tempo, and execute it well. If you enjoy any kind of heavy music, listen to this song front to back.

“Chinese Whispers” is another standout track, mainly for it’s infective chorus “Every second is passing by so fast. Everything that you cling to will not last.” This track marks an expansion of the catchiness found on “Ire Works’” “Milk Lizard”, but better. More engaging.

“I Wouldn’t If You Didn’t” is the final heavy expression on the disc, if you see heavy as screaming and raging guitars, that is. The screams of “Suffering is love. Suffering is not love” give way to a strange circus-y closing track entitled “Parasitic Twins”, and it’s a beautiful one. A song about lost love with harmonies coming from just about everywhere, it’s an easy song to sink into. It could even be a gateway song for the band, though most would shrink back in terror after listening to the rest of the album.

Overall, you have to admire art that has real passion, real gusto, or true grit, as the late Hunter S. Thompson would say. Here we have it, so don’t ignore it. Learn from it. Let’s get some more real inspiration in this world. Turn the tides and show the bastard’s some fire in the head.

Steve and cohort Gustavo de Beauville heralded in the Unravelling‘s debut CD 13 Arcane Hymns yesterday (on the 13th of May). You can get yourself a physically or digital copy at theunravellingmusic.com NOW! You can also hear a couple of tracks from the new album on our podcast episode #24 and episode #21.

Popularity: unranked [?]

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