Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Off the Dial

Music News, Reviews, Photos _ Podcasts

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 [?]

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: 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: 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 [?]

Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers ~ I’m With You

Posted by JonesK On September - 8 - 2011

Written By: Kristen Jones

American rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers have released their tenth studio album, titled I’m With You.  Produced by Rick Rubin, this is the band’s first album since 2006′s Stadium Arcadium and the first album to feature guitarist Josh Klinghoffer.

Formed in Los Angeles in 1983, the Red Hot Chili Peppers currently consists of Anthony Kiedis (vocals), Michael “Flea” Balzary (bass, keyboards), Chad Smith (drums, percussion) and Josh Klinghoffer (guitar, backing vocals).

With John Frusciante‘s departure from the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2009, some fans became skeptical about the band’s future.  After all, the long-time guitarist was seen as a vital part of the band and co-wrote many of the group’s most beloved material.

I too was skeptical, but let me assure you I’m With You is better than I had anticipated and Klinghoffer has added a unique flair to the album’s 14 songs.

I’m With You opens with “Monarchy of Roses”, a catchy, pulsating song with an underlying pop feel and an impressive guitar solo.  Next is “Factory of Faith” complete with Flea’s signature funky bass sound.

As on their previous album, there is also a song dedicated to the death of a friend.  “Brendan’s Death Song” is an emotionally charged heartfelt ballad celebrating the life of Nightclub owner Brendan Mullen.

After “Brendan’s Death Song” the album takes a more upbeat turn.  From the lively atmosphere of “Ethiopia” to the energetic first single “The Adventure’s of Rain Dance Maggie”, this is an album you kind of want to dance to.

The second half of I’m With You see’s the band experimenting a little bit with songs like the piano driven “Happiness Loves Company”, the slightly country “Meet Me At The Corner” and “Even You, Brutus?”.

The album closes with “Dance, Dance, Dance”.  Both in sound and in statement this is the perfect song to end with.

Overall I’m With You is a good album with some well written songs and catchy radio friendly hits.  Is it going to make album of the year?  Probably not, but it’s definately worth a listen.

For more information on the band visit their website www.redhotchilipeppers.com

Popularity: unranked [?]

Live Review: Soundgarden @ Saddledome

Posted by newsboy On July - 28 - 2011

Written by: James Callsen (X92.9 Blog)

Last night’s Soundgarden show was great. Instead of writing a quick blurb AND doing a list, I’m combining them today.

1: It was a HELL of a long show.

The band went on at 8:45 and left around 11. That’s over 2 hours of Soundgarden. I generally gauge a concert’s success by how often I wonder if it’s over yet. I didn’t wonder that once, over 2 hours. So according to my math, that means Soundgarden did well.

2: Soundgarden is old.

Definitely lots of grey in Kim Thayil’s breezy locks and I’m pretty sure Chris Cornell’s beard wasn’t so jet black either. This is a wake up call to Generation X; You’re getting old too. However Soundgarden proved last night that old guys can still do it.

3: I forgot how many great songs are in the Soundgarden back catalog.

When you work at X92.9, you hear a lot of Soundgarden so lately I haven’t had any of their records on in a long time. I forgot how great some of their stuff like “Fourth Of July” (which smoked last night) was. Hearing “Slaves _ Bulldozers” was great too, as was “My Wave” (huge highlight) and “Like Suicide”.

4: Cornell had audio effect help, but Thayil still has it.

Admittedly, Cornell wasn’t hitting all the high notes he used to. That’s what happens when you get old though. He had plenty of audio processed help. Maybe I’m just a weak fan, but I can let it slide. Thayil on the other hand held it down through the entire set. He never was a guy to get too physical on stage, so last night was a real clinic watching him work from 30 feet away. One of the best guitarists of all time.

5: The very laid back pit had something to do with the large amounts of weed being inhaled.

Want to know why people weren’t tearing sh*t up last night? Two words: Contact. High. I haven’t been around that much weed being smoked inside one building in a long, long time. I didn’t inhale, but good thing I don’t have a urine test today.

6: Matt Cameron is awesome

Looked and sounded good last night, just as he gets set to get back on the road with Pearl Jam. That’s like Iggy (Jerome Iginla) working as a wide receiver for the Stamps during the beginning of the NHL season in his spare time.

7: Soundgarden last night was not the Soundgarden of 15 years ago.

They’re 15 years older. Can you do everything you were physically good at 15 years ago? Last nights show was better than I expected. Much better, but maybe that’s because I was expecting an hour long greatest hit set so the could run off the stage and cash their checks. Far more intensity than I anticipated, even if it sounded a little creakier than one would have hoped.

You can hear James on X92.9 FM in Calgary, online at x929.ca and check out his x92.9 Blog.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: SPIN’s Tribute Album ~ Newermind

Posted by cristóvão On July - 19 - 2011

SPIN Celebrates Nirvana’s Nevermind With Free Tribute Album

Written by: Chris Andrade

On September 24, 1991 the release of Nirvana‘s Nevermind changed a generation. To think that that was twenty years ago is mind boggling. Yet whether you want to admit it or not, that album still holds true to this day and that’s proven when you speak to any number of artists who cite it’s influence, many who were mere thoughts in their parents mind, let alone toddlers.

That’s why it’s no surprise that someone decided to put together a tribute album to mark the 20th anniversary. Today, SPIN Magazine released Newermind, a track-by-track cover of the seminal album. Featuring artists like Meat Puppets, the Vaselines, Surfer Blood, Titus Andronicus, you can download it from SPINs facebook page for the low low price of free.

As I listened to the album today, I decided to do somewhat of an album review on our Twitter account, something I’ve never done before (and maybe I’ll make a new feature…maybe). All told, it’s an interesting listen. There are misses (really Midnight Juggernauts, what’s with the helium vocals on “Come As You Are”), head scratchers (I both hate and like Foxy Shazam‘s take on “Drain You”) and true-to-form recreations (including Titus Andronicus‘ “Breed”, Surfer Blood‘s “Territorial Pissings”, Telekinesis‘ “On a Plain”).

I was very happy to see that “Endless Nameless” was given a treatment (and it was done well by EMA), I still can’t put my finger on who Butch Walker _ the Black Widows sound like on the clap-happy version of “In Bloom” but the real story here is how blown away I was by Charles Bradley _ the Menahan Street Band. Sounding like two parts Black Keys, two parts James Brown and a hint of Cee-Lo Green, this total re-invention of “Stay Away” is the freshest cut on this tribute album. If nothing else, this track alone makes this tribute album is worth the bandwidth and time.

Universal (parent company of DGC who originally release Nevermind) are planning a deluxe anniversary edition which reportedly will feature a 4CD/1DVD set including B-Sides, a live concert and more, arriving on September 19th.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: My Morning Jacket ~ Circuital

Posted by CoryS On June - 14 - 2011

Written by: Cory Schachtel

As far as I can tell, My Morning Jacket is the most solid band going right now: five guys, who all play a bunch of instruments, jamming their hippie hearts out. What comes out most in their records, and especially on Circuital, is how the band is better than the sum of its parts – and its parts are really good. Even the way they perform this album – which you can see on YouTube – no one, not even Jim James with his soaring, haunting, why-doesn’t-he-scream-more voice, is necessarily the lead. He’s just another hairy cog in a beautifully musical machine.

The worst you could say about Circuital is that it rocks a bit less than their previous albums, though the opening track Victory Dance builds up as good as any MMJ song, and Holdin On To Black Metal”, with its funky horns and layered, child-echoed chorus, is an auditory trip, containing the album’s raunchiest riffs. They channel their inner James Taylor on The Way I Feel, and “Outta My System”, a Beach Boys-ish song about a former drug dealing, car stealing married man, is the album’s catchiest tune, and the song you should play for someone who’s never heard them before (you’ll also wish it was about a minute longer and that James would scream more).

The best you could say, about this and all MMJ albums, is that not a single shit was given regarding what’s popular, or what a band ‘should’ do. They acknowledge, but are in no way restrained by traditional song structure. Their focus is their own sound, and that includes as many build-ups, breaks and build-ups again, as they see fit.

With horns, soft piano, slide and acoustic guitars – to go along with two lead electric guitarists and one of the best drummers around – it’s tough to classify MMJ as anything more specific than rock, and that’s probably a good thing. Circuital sounds influenced by a variety of music, but the risks it takes don’t seem like reaching, because the players are good enough to pull it off. If anything, they make it sound easy. I don’t know how many bands can claim to have heavy elements of modern rock, folk and country – often in the same song – but whatever genre they or anyone considers them, no bands are doing it better.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Album Review: Sam Roberts Band ~ Collider

Posted by tzimmerman On May - 16 - 2011

Written by: Thomas Zimmerman

The Sam Roberts Band‘s new album Collider is a newer, improved version of the Beatles had they survived until 2011, and I really love this album!  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all the Beatles did to drive the flavour and style of music through the 50 years, and while I liked a lot of their arrangement techniques, I could never fall in love with their vocal quality that seemed to somehow lack depth.  Perhaps it was the technology of the time that created those challenges, but  The Sam Roberts Band  magnificently accomplishs a beautiful depth and quality in this album that makes me rejoice.  I absolutely LOVE the vocals, extremely well done!  And not to get stuck in one certain style of music, Sam Roberts et al mix it up with straight up in your face to a more standard reggae feel to a heavily influenced Devo-esque reminiscence in one track.  This is definitely one album I will continue to listen to over and over again, which I know is what every band loves to hear.

If the Fab Four were to compose a new album, I’m pretty sure this would be an extremely close representation of their efforts.  I don’ t know if it was intentional or not, but if you were going to emulate a band, then you could do far worse than the Beatles…how many #1′s did they have, about a billion or so?

Lyrically The Sam Roberts Band gets a message across without getting ridiculous about it.  Most of them are stories about real life events and the fallout from some of those events, which makes the music nice and relateable.  That reflects wisdom and foresight in the creation of their music; Sing about stuff people know about or have experienced and you have an immediate audience that can appreciate your message.

I also really like how The Sam Roberts Band has utilized some of the more traditional, classical instruments instead of going all electronica.  “Let Me In”  displays a classic sounding flute reminiscent of The Doors style, whereas “Streets of Heaven” brings out the gutsy tones of the saxophone, and the keyboard work is nice and subtle, yet very present when it needs to be.  Beautiful.

“Twist the Knife” is one of my favourite tracks on this album.  The guitars are crisp, and there seems to be a whole bunch of them in there at times, all mixed well enough to give the listener the ability to understand the separation between them.

If you’re looking for an album that mixes it up nicely, isn’t the same stuff separated into 12 different tracks, and helps you to understand that there are other people out there that have stories to tell that may be similar to your own, then Collider is a definite on the wish list, even if you don’t like the Beatles.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Live Review: Utopia Festival

Posted by bradp On March - 15 - 2011

Written by: Brad Poulsen

On Saturday March 5th, a party was held in Vancouver.  The Party was called Utopia.  It was a celebration of Women in digital culture.  And it rocked.  With three stages, three bars, and Peaches spinning the headline set, the W2 Storyeum venue went off.  Did I mention it was a party?

There was good reason to celebrate.  The event took place three days before the 100th aniversary of International Women’s Day and there was a true spirit of togetherness engulfing the event.  With workshops, lectures, a mobile street dance, and a night of fun and entertainment, The one day festival packed a lot of punch.

Aspiring artists, up-and-coming musicians, and mentoring veterans, shared ideas and stages.  Erotic Lesbian fiction and traditional First nations songs were heard back to back.  Poets, Cellists, Djs and Vjs were there to support eachother, and supporters of Vancouver’s arts and music scene came out in full force.

No word yet on attendance or dollars raised but the place was packed and there can be no doubt the event was a success.  Utopia co-curator DJ Betti Forde put it this way on her facebook page, “Out of all the hundreds of parties I’ve been involved in throwing since 1996, Utopia may just have been the dopest…”  Utopia’s good vibes will continue to be felt as the net proceeds support W2 Inner-City Girls’ Summer Creative Tech Camp.  Good vibes indeed.

Popularity: unranked [?]

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