Archive for the ‘Album Review’ Category

Stuck on repeat…

If a band could represent summertime, Sparks the Rescue would be the epitome.  Their previous record, Eyes to the Sun, would be the peak—July when summer has already kicked off, and the return to monotony and back-to-school shopping is still beyond the horizon.  Their current album on the other hand, The Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With, is August.  While still entertaining, what was jotted on a mental to-do list has been completed, and lemonade and tans have been utilized to the max.

‘I Swear That She’s The One’ off Eyes To The Sun and ‘Thought You Were The One’ off The Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With are glaring representations of the blaze and burnout of a summer fling.

WTIBCW (StorkMusic’s shortened acronym for the current album), is an album begging to be played on car stereos with the windows down, accompanied by too-loud sing alongs.  Poppy, sure.  Catchy, undoubtedly.

The album opens with ‘Saturday Skin,’ a perfect, upbeat tune with subtly appalling undertones.  The first run through of the songs begs for a replay— did he just say what I thought he said?  Chased by the equally catchy single of ‘She’s a bitch and I’m a fool,’ it becomes clear the album isn’t meant for young ears.  WTIBCW is like that ‘lamp’ optical illusion ever-present on so many side bar advertisements about credit scores—at first glance, or in this case, listen, it is innocent and chaste.  After a second listen, the impeccably cheerful vocals give way to a far more raunchy underlying tone.

 A number of darker tracks, ‘The Weirdest Way,’ ‘High and Hazy,’ and ‘Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With’ sit in a cluster—much like that little patch of time during summer when fun and sun finally start to catch up and become slightly overwhelming.  That little slump is easily recovered from with another ice cream cone, in this case, the chaser duo of ‘Better Side of Me’ and ‘Postcard of a Tidal Wave.’  ‘Better Side of Me’ gives way to a catchy, comical rap feature by ‘I’m Awesome’ singer, Spose.  Both Spose and Sparks the Rescure hail from Maine, lending some explanation to the weird, albeit harmonious collaboration.

‘Postcard of a Tidal Wave’ is one of the catchiest songs of the album, telling the story of a failed relationship in a more lighthearted way, supported with catchy choruses and Maine and Hawaii similies.

The rest of the album finishes off with solid summertime tracks, concluding with ‘Thought You Were the One,’ equally as catchy as its predecessor on Eyes to the Sun, though obviously less optimistic.

And the golden bonus track—a dedication to the most sane man on the planet, Charlie Sheen, will melt your face off.  After you realize that you’ve got tiger’s blood in your veins, of course. ‘Better Side of Me (Charlie Sheen Version)’ is a simple masterpiece—pure genius.  Packed full of references to the warlock, this track is almost worthy of being the sole reason to buy the album. Winning, duh.

~T

Recent lyricism has come in a roundabout way to focus on poppin’ bottles and throwing glitter—not that those aren’t fun, catchy and money making tactics, but sometimes a dose of substance and interpretation offered by heartfelt, personally written lyrics is needed.

Instead of a Dr. Luke brainchild destined for a top spot on the iTunes 100 and immediate radio syndication, Go Radio has managed to counter the grammatically challenged synth-pop hits with their debut full length Lucky Street.

Simply put, Go Radio’s lyrics are masterpieces ranging from lovesick confessions to heartbreaking remembrances.   Do Overs and Second Chances closed with ‘Goodnight Moon’—a song almost any girl would love to think is written about her.  The fan favorite was a fantastic taste of what was to come on Lucky Street.

The album opens with its title eponymous track, an attention grabbing tale of red balloons backed by impeccably catchy, rhythmic guitar riffs and drumbeats.  Frontman Jason Lancaster’s vocals are raw, but in the best way possible.  No sugar coating or autotuning required—ensuring a stellar live performance.

‘Lucky Street’ perfectly sets the tone for the record, priming the listener for a collection of songs brimming with catchy choruses and impeccable depth.  While some artists write songs with the intentions of implanting a song lyric (DiCaprio Inception -esque), Go Radio writes with the intention of emotion and storytelling, effortlessly ending up with a repetitive verse.

Possibly one of the most alluding songs on the record, ‘Singing With The King’ subtly references music greats and even friends dear and near to the band.  Almost every additional listen to the song sparks an ‘aha’ moment when a reference is picked up.

Taking a slight break from the more upbeat, rock tracks is ‘Why I’m Home.’  Lancaster’s lyrics are undeniably raw and heartfelt, displaying the versatility of the frontman’s vocals.  From a rocker’s angsty, biting tone to a raspy almost-falsetto, his ability truly shines.

Like ‘Why I’m Home,’ ‘Forever My Father’ (which makes two appearances on the record) is another heartfelt piece, open to interpretation and application, but written in memoriam of Lancaster’s father.  The song displays exemplary emotion and substance, especially on the version featuring two of the other Lancaster siblings.

Lucky Street provides a variety of tracks—from the more rock heavy ‘Strength to Stay’ and ‘Fight Fight (Reach For The Sky)’ to the more acoustic ‘Hold On’ and melodic ‘House Of Hallways.’  Overall, the album is a solid representation of what Go Radio is—a versatile, honest and talented group of individuals.

Rating: Undeniably kick ass.

[‘The truth is’…Go Radio writes some of the most incredible music.]

~T

Ain’t Too Childish

Posted: April 15, 2011 by storkmusic in Album Review
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I watch Community. I think it’s a funny show. Starring Joel McHale and Chevy Chase, Community makes up the first half hour of NBC’s comedy block. However, it’s not the stars that make the show great; it’s the ensemble cast and the great writing.

Donald Glover, who plays Troy “Butt Soup” Barnes on the show, is by far the funniest. His lines are always top notch (or for community fans “NOTCHES”) and sometimes improvisational. His wit also translated into the writing game. Glover even wrote for Emmy-winning “30 Rock.” But how would Glover act as a rapper?

That’s right. A rapper. Childish Gambino. Donald Glover. At first it doesn’t translate. If you look at Donald, he doesn’t scream “Gangsta.” But he is. Gambino is a dirty, lyrical genius.

His last two albums, both available online for free, have been written by Glover and composed by Community’s Ludwig Göransson. EP, his newest, features 5 tracks full of inappropriate rhymes and pop culture references. The jokes are even good enough to stand alone, without the music.

An elephant never forgets, so my dick remembers everything

Took the G out your waffle all you got left is your ego

And my clique make that dinero, so it’s time to meet the Fockers. I am running this bitch, you are just a dog walker.

Glover/Gambino’s indie raps are reminiscent of an old Kanye West, a clever, line-spitting lyricist. People just refer to him as “Troy” from “that one NBC show with the guy from The Hangover,” but he’s better than that. He’s one of the best undiscovered rappers of the decade.

Visit iamdonald.com for more info and to download the free EP

 Tracklist:

1. Be Alone

2. Freaks and Geeks

3. My Shine

4. Lights Turned On

5. Not Going Back ft. Beldina Makaika

Rating: KICK ASS. THAT IS ALL.

~S

Lupe is Back

Posted: April 15, 2011 by omerrrrrr in Album Review
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Four years since his last album, Lupe Fiasco is back, better than ever. Lasers sold 204,000 copies in the first week, Fiasco’s most successful album ever.  After postponing multiple albums, Fiasco’s release of Love Always Shines Everytime, Remember 2 Smile, called for peace around the world. The “A” in Lasers was written over an “O”. In the Lasers Manifesto that was released on YouTube and Fiasco’s main website, Fiasco said, “We want knowledge, understanding & peace. We will not lose because we are not losers, we are lasers! Lasers are revolutionary. Lasers are the future.”

The album had some politically charged messages in them, highlighted by Words I Never Said. It criticized numerous government decisions, from budget cuts to motives behind war. I thought Skylar Grey’s role, singing the chorus was great, ‘Its so loud, inside my head, with words that I should have said. As I drown, in my regrets, with words that I never said.’

The most popular song was The Show Goes On. Although it is one of my favorite songs from the album, lyrically, it wasn’t typical Lupe. They were bland lyrics with a catchy tune, just a hit song to hit the charts, which was exactly what happened. Lupe himself wasn’t a big fan either, unlike other rappers today, his songs usually have actual meaning.  ‘Alright, till the morning we dream so long, anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up, just remember when you come up, the show goes on!’ It’s a great pregame warmup song, but not what you expect from Lupe.

Generally, the album was pretty good. Classic Lupe – catchy tunes and meaningful lyrics.  Its good to see he is back. Looking ahead, Fiasco may release Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album. But, his last few albums were postponed and some were just ridden of entirely.

Rating: It was pleasantly kicking ass.

~O

                 With musical giants such as Asking Alexandria and We Came As Romans dropping and planning to drop new albums, it’s a difficult time for up and coming hardcore bands to emerge. One of the most talented bands that has been covered up by the recent hardcore albums is Swedish band Adept. With their new album “Death Dealers” hitting the shelves this past month, the foreign band has stolen the hearts of many and then torn them to shreds (in the best way possible) with brutal breakdowns and a gargantuan range of screams.

                “The Ivory Tower” was released as a single before “Death Dealers” was released, and it embodied what Adept was all about. Carefully worded and savagely executed lyrics were woven in between heavy guitar and thrashing drums, creating a mosh pit of music. It left me listening to it on repeat every once and a while; I couldn’t get enough of it. I couldn’t wait for the album.

                Once “Death Dealers” came out, Adept immediately brought me in with “First Round, First Minute” which mixed heavy double bass, guitar riffs, and the oh so welcome lyrics “drop it like it’s hot” and “here we f***ing go.” The album continued with giant bass drops and (of course) breakdowns, but I found it difficult to get through the entire album. All of the songs had a similar tone, open with drums and guitar, throw in a breakdown, show off the low screams, and end. Even though songs like “Death Dealers” and “The Ivory Tower” threw in the much needed deep lyrics and catchy chorus, it couldn’t compensate for the ten other nothing-out-of-the-ordinary melodies.

                One thing that I was absolutely hated about the album was the lack of high-pitched screams. Adept’s first full length album, “Another Year of Disaster,” was filled to the brim with screeching high screams that brought emotion into the screams. This album has lost all of that emotion and replaced it with monotonous lows. Whenever songs like “No Guts, No Glory” featured a speck of a screech, my heart jumped a little bit in hope that more would follow. I was (and still am) disappointed.

                Though the album was boring at times, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. I can’t nod my head during some of Adept’s catchy breakdowns, I just wish there weren’t so many.”Death Dealers” could easily drop four or so songs to be a better quality album; after all, quality is better than quantity (especially in music).

Overall rating: eh, satisfactory

~K

Sometimes change goes unnoticed, merely adding an element that nobody can quite describe. Other times it fuels harsh criticism and deep nostalgia. In Asking Alexandria’s third full length album, Reckless and Relentless, both transformations blended for a slightly unsettling, yet moderately enjoyable album.

The pre-released song, Morte et Dabo, gave undeserving hope to those with an obsession for Asking Alexandria’s harsh breakdowns and talented high screams. Although it gave a new perspective to the band, it is still quite different from the general sound of the album. Deserving or not, audiences expect consistency from a band. This unrealistic expectation is often crushed, but can be reconsidered when altered aspects outweigh previous antics.

 The intro, Welcome, begins with a melodic, synthesized orchestra and breaks into screamed to vocals. At this point, I was not yet disenchanted. The balance of screamed vocals and clean vocals was relative to expectations in most of their songs, such as: Closure, A Lesson Never Learned, To The Stage, Breathless, and The Match. However, the other few songs were a grave upset, lacking the intense breakdowns and screamed vocals that were desired. Even in the songs with the optimal balance, the clean vocals were quite different from their previous album. It may be the band simply developing into their niche, but some are left unimpressed.

 Lack of enjoyment may be in part the listener’s fault.  Most bands will not remain identical for their entire career. Asking Alexandria was a fairly new band, and change in style should have been expected. Despite criticism of their “generic” tactics, they add a unique sound to the metal-core/ post-hardcore genre and have hooked many fans worldwide. They will be playing on the main stage this year at Warped Tour, and despite results from some of their other concerts, are expected to have a loyal audience.

Overall Rating- The awkward mark between satisfactory and pleasant.

~R