Saturday, May 24, 2014

Welcome to our new home

Thanks for your support.  Continue to read our posts (and enjoy the back catalog) here.

Friday, May 16, 2014

10 Songs That Must Be Played LOUD

Some songs work no matter how you listen to them: soft, loud, through a broken speaker system, or even being butchered by a bad karaoke singer.  Some, however, only work in one context, either through the rawness of a live performance, the careful arrangement of a studio recording, or as we will explore today, through maximum ear splitting volume.
This is by no means a top 10, but rather ten anthems to the joys of obliterating our eardrums.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: Killer Be Killed - Killer Be Killed


The debut album from supergroup Killed Be Killed has finally landed, 3 years passed since the first news of a supergroup featuring The Dillinger Escape Plan's Greg Puciato and Soulfly's Max Cavalera created a little snowball of hype that has grown and grown after the incorporation of Mastodon's Troy Sanders and Dave Elitch (currently drumming for ANTEMASQUE).

Considering the background of each of it's members it was easy to predict the result was going to be heavy, but what they were going to sound like remained a mistery for almost 3 years. So now that the album is out (and assuming you haven't heard the first "singles") you must be wondering... was it worth the wait?.

The album kicks off at full strenght with the first two singles, "Wings of Feather and Wax" and "Face Down", the first featuring Max, Greg and Troy sharing vocal duties between different parts of the verses and bridge, while singing the choruses together. The next two songs are slightly reminiscent of The Dillinger Escape Plan, just much more radio friendly. After track 5 the album is mostly traditional, radio friendly trash metal, much closer to a simplified version of Soulfly than DEP or Mastodon, in fact if it wasn't for Troy's vocals there wouldn't be anything on "Killer Be Killed" that sounded like Mastodon's spacey prog rock.

Most of the guitar work is comprised of very traditional rhythm guitar riffs with heavy distortion, there's rarely a solo or a memorable guitar lead, and the same goes for the drums. I've been following Dave's work since he joined The Mars Volta in late 2009 but while he's certainly very skilled I have yet to see him play a memorable drum beat or fill, and this kind of music doesn't really demands for creativity.

How much you can enjoy this record will most probably be determined by which main project brought you here, I can't really say I'm a big fan of Cavalera's previous work (or trash metal in general), and was probably expecting something more adventurous or groundbreaking, so the best thing to do is just take it for what it is, enjoy the catchy hooks and varied vocal performances, and avoid thinking about what this could have been.

Ranking: decent
For fans of: thrash metal, hardcore
Accessibility: radio friendly
Highlights: "Wings Of Feather And Wax", “Snakes of Jehova”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ryan takes you back to the year... 2013!

The year is almost over, and so many artists have released records that most of you won’t listen to. Last year was the same. In fact, there were so many records that you may have missed some. So Ryan has taken it upon himself to review all of them in this five part series! Accompanying each album are a few choice tracks that really stand out, listen to them. Make sure you like and share us on the internet or else we won’t return the favor.

Welcome to the Past!

Part One:
The 1975: The 1975- European pop-punk band tries to express themselves with this lackluster album. Akin to a British Panic! At the Disco, The 1975 tries to be upbeat and make songs about fooling around with girls they like. It is nothing you haven’t already heard. So you can just politely ignore this one.
Good songs- “Chocolate

Adam Ant: Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter- The master of Neo-Romanticism is back with the goofiest named album in decades! Aside from the moniker, Adam Ant ‘s style of storytelling is wacky and engaging. The mix of Glam and Alternative rock is amicable, but does not make it a total success. (And for some reason the vocal mixing is terrible)

Gary Allen: Set You Free- An un-obnoxious country album. This very accessible album is pleasantly devoid of pointless tropes that plague contemporary country. Contains some heartbreaking songs about addiction and other afflictions. Thankfully there is only one mention of a dog; no mentions of a truck. Check this one out.
Good Songs- “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” “Bones

Antiphon: Midlake- Spacey rock. Nothing I haven’t heard before. Very laid back sound. Not exerting too much effort. Letting the instruments play themselves, more or less. Seems like the band was over their own sound while they were recording, not worth it.
Good songs- “The Old and the Young

A$AP Rocky: Long. Live. A$AP- There is nothing special about this album. Once again another lowest common denominator rap record about hanging out, having sex, making money and being better than other people. We have all heard this before. You can pass on this.
Good Songs- “1 Train” “Phoenix

John Batiste: Social Music- Exciting Jazz album from a group of talented musicians. True highlight is the songs that flirt with gospel like Mingus used to. Some fairly creative takes on standards like “St. James Infirmary”. Definitely worth a listen.
Good Songs- “Let God Lead”, “San Spirito

Sarah Brightman: Dreamchaser- Made for your local Dentist’s office. Easy listening at its easiest. With such covers as Wings’s “Venus and Mars” and Sigur Ros’s “Glosoli” you are sure to find at least one song you will mildly tolerate then swiftly begin to hate! You are better off just listening to the originals.
Good Songs- “Breathe Me” “A Song of India

Bullet for My Valentine: Temper Temper- This metal album does little to extend the reach of the genre. It is a very straight forward effort, and the band clearly plays it safe by reusing the same chord progressions from they’re last album. Merely opting to slightly change the subject of the lyrics, emphasis on slightly. There are much better metal albums out this year.
Good Songs- “Truth Hurts

Nick Cave: Push the Sky Away- Singer-songwriter Nick Cave took his time with these nine focused, brooding ballads. Ever the storyteller, Cave makes sure you get no pleasure from the tales he weaves. This a fairly major departure from his more recent, melody centric albums. It is slow, methodical, and you will take no pleasure in it. Which is the point, I guess.
Good Songs- “Mermaids

CHVRCHES- The Bones of What You Believe- Scottish synth-pop group has their sights set high, and their sound set low…fi. Reminiscent of other European effect heavy bands like M83 and ABBA. Their sound has many, many low tones and flirts with shoegazing. Good listen for those who enjoy pop or synth-pop. The single, “Lungs” is a nice diversion from other pop bullshit on the market now.
Good songs- “Gun

The Civil Wars: The Civil Wars- This group brings a very refreshing take on the country genre. The harmonies entwine throughout each song. Both singer/songwriters know how to make truly gripping songs. It stinks that they split up. A must.
Good Songs- “I Had Me a Girl” “Devil’s Backbone” “Disarm

Deltron 3030: Event 2- The second album from hip hop heroes Del “The Funky Homosapien” and Dan “The Automator”. This albums packs in a wide spanning scope of sounds and imaginative, spacey lyrics sure to please any listener. This concept album about a guy going on a space trip is well worth the money. For some reason, tons of celebrities lend their voices to this project as well. Talents such as David Cross, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, The Lonely Island and Joseph Gordon-Levitt help make this album unforgettable.
Good Songs- “The Return” “What is this Loneliness

Drake: Nothing Was The Same- There is nothing worse than this album.

Dropkick Murphy’s: Signed & Sealed in Blood- Legendary Celt-Punk band’s newest work is pretty much made for people who like to get drunk and yell. Perfect for any occasion! Each song is as engaging, and predictable enough, for even passers-by to join in on the merriment/sorrow. So play these songs and yell at those you love and hate.

Everything Everything: Arc- Surprisingly creative and deep. A true work of art! This British indie band is like what Panic! At the Disco could have been if they didn’t suck but weren’t as emo as Fall Out Boy. If you are looking for a unique and sometimes complex band, start here.
Good Songs- “Cough Cough” “Choice Mountain” “Undrowned

Foxygen: We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic- This group sounds like a mid-sixties psychedelic band going full swing on some heinous shrooms. It’s all about sending good vibes and love and grooves and impeaching Nixon. Foxygen also isn’t too shy about flaunting their deep blues roots either. This album is a pretty worthwhile listen.
Good Songs- “On Blue Mountain” “Shuggie

Josh Groban: All That Echoes- This guy can sing! It’s like the Phantom from that Opera play got twelve songs all to himself. Each song kind of has the same tone of being sad or amorous, which kind of gets boring. This album is best as a sprinkle amidst your playlist.
Good Songs- “Falling Slowly” “I Believe

Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite: Get Up!- Good God this album sure has got the blues. The first two songs are somewhat lacking, but once they get rolling, they hardly let up. One of the standout moments of the album is on the song “Blood Side Out”. This heavy, heavy song gives both musicians a chance to pair up and really show how bad they have the blues. This album has some really good parts and some pretty mediocre parts. Listen to the songs below.

Icona Pop: This is…Icon Pop- Super-synthy-lowest-common-denominator-dubstep-infused dance music that is surely to become your guilty pleasure of the year. Today’s equivalent of 80’s music, in as positive a way as possible.
Good songs- “All Night”, “Light Me Up

The Joy Formidable: Wolf’s Law- This Indie-Metal band’s newest release has some pretty catchy songs. Their high energy riffs are perfect for working out. They are the kinds of songs that energize you to win a video game, or bungie-jump. Check out the “Maw Maw Song”.
Good Songs- “Forest Serenade” “Little Blimp

Juicy J: Stay Trippy- A prime example of how truly awful music can get. Filled with bafflingly unimaginative lyrics that may or may not be just what J was doing (or would rather be doing) at the moment. If you want to get high and party, this is for you.
Good Songs- “Wax

k-os: Black on Blonde- International superstar k-os gets deep on this synth-heavy album. He gives plenty of time to state his influences and inspirations (God). Melding singing with rap verses, this work has plenty for any Hip-Hop fan. I would put this album squarely in the conscious rap genre in the vein of Arrested Development and Anthony Hamilton.
Good Songs- “Nobody Else” “Try Again

Talib Kweli: Prisoner of Conscious- Hip Hop extraordinaire returns with another solid offering. Kweli once again proves he can manipulate his unique brand of storytelling over any beat. A really fun album with great guest acts.
Good songs- “Favela Love” “High Life

LL Cool J: Authentic- I do not know why this album was made. It starts with a song about getting high on bath salts (“Bath Salt”), and continues in that vein for the remainder of the album. Each of these songs are superseded by the next in how embarrassing they must be for LL Cool J. “We Came to Party. Hey look I got my hands up on your body.” Enough said.
Good Songs- “We Came to Party” “Bartender Please

John Legend: Love in the Future- Smooth and soulful! Wonderfully produced album filled with some pretty good covers. If you are in the mood to make babies, throw this bad boy on!
Good Songs- “All of Me” “Open Your Eyes

Lowrider: Black Stones- There is plenty to like from this melancholic indie album. The band borrows from different areas, mostly soul and blues, to make a really engaging album. Lowrider excels at sounding like a wide variety of different bands but are wholly themselves. Easily in my top twenty of the year.
Good Songs- “Golden Sun” “This City” “Go Get Gone

M.I.A.: Matangi- This album is frightening. Kind of like a collection of songs a crazy ex made for you while tripping on ecstasy. The beats are sporadic and effect heavy, borrowing heavily from dubstep and other subgenres MIA helped inspire. MIA’s lyrics are mostly about vengeance and love, and in different vocoder settings, further making this album a trip. A little too inaccessible for me, but still classic MIA!
Good Songs- “Warriors” “Double Bubble Trouble” “Exodus

Major Lazer: Free The Universe- This album is perfect for stoners. Multi-elemental melodies that are made for wonderers and mind expanders of all sorts. The duo of Diplo and Jillionaire combine reggae and dancehall music to create a pretty great album. Also good for the clubs! Not really good for quiet spaces, though.
Good Songs- “Get Free

Paul McCartney: New- Very fun album from a well-known musician. It is no mistake that so many bands list the Beatles as their main influence. McCartney harnesses a keen ability for song writing that is quite unique. One of the best songs on the album, “On My Way to Work”, is about riding a bus and masturbating. McCartney’s other non-solo projects are a little more profound and legendary, but this album is still a delight.
Good Songs- “Early Days” “Everybody Out There

Tim McGraw: Two Lanes of Freedom- This album borrows from the worst aspects of country music: Beer, Girls in cut-offs, and Trucks. Mr. McGraw then takes these elements and makes it worse by trying to make it relatable to today’s youth. Sentimental songs of youth, long nights of partying, and of course Lil’ Wayne. Please, don’t listen to this.
Hilarious Songs- “Two Lanes of Freedom” “Truck Yeah

Moby: Innocents- Very mellow and engaging album from the master of ambient electronica. Blending many different elements into a smooth, buttery concoction that will have you hooked. Also available in chunky!
Good Songs- “Everything That Rises” “The Perfect Life” “The Last Day

Janelle Monae: The Electric Lady- Funky soul rap installment from one of the most underappreciated performers to date. Janelle Monae adds a level of flavor that is sadly missing ever since Outkast’s last album. The compositions in this album are as bad as they want to be. Never a dull moment on this genre-blending adventure!

The Polyphonic Spree: Yes, It’s True- The famously huge group plays it very safe with this vanilla effort. It sounds more like a Passion Pit B-side than their earlier albums, which may be giving it too high of praise. The album is syrupy and fails to capture one sense of wonder despite the non-stop efforts. Not made for everyone.
Good Songs- “Let Them Be

Robert Glasper Experiment: Black Radio 2- The Experimental Jazz group is at it once again, this time bringing with them a dozen or so Hip-Hop and R&B stars. This album flawlessly weaves a multitude of jazz influences into a thick and smooth sound that anyone will fall in love with. The addition of such artists as Jill Scott, Brandy, Anthony Hamilton and Snoopzilla to these songs are sure to excite the listener. The final song of the album, Bill Withers’s “Lovely Day” quaintly ties up what is one of the best albums of the year.
Good Songs- “I Stand Alone” “Calls” “I Don’t Even Care

Rudimental: Home- The first album from U.K. electronic duo mixes soul, dancehall, house and a passable amount of dubstep. These songs will draw you in and put you in an unescapable groove. I am surprised these songs aren’t as popular as they should be.

Good Songs- “Feel the Love” “Powerless” “Not Giving In


Silverstein: This is How the Wind Shifts- Emo band follows the blueprints of mediocre suburban punk music to a fault. There is nothing new in this album that hasn’t already been done at least a dozen times. There are plenty of other good (read: listenable) albums that have come out this year. Ironically, the best songs are in the form of short vignettes.
Good Songs- “Arrivals” “The Wind Shifts

Scott Stapp: Proof of Life- Very predictable solo album from former Creed frontman. Each song has riffs taken directly from previous Creed endeavors, leaving only an embarrassing grasp at relevancy. Absolutely nothing surprising about this album to the point where it seems lazy. Not good at all, but better than Nickleback.
Key tracks: “Hunghaga!” “Randassa Fromand Ah

Starfucker: Miracle Mile- If you like weird music that doesn’t go anywhere fast, you will love this album. Reminds me of MGMT and Animal Collective; both bands came out with albums this year, by the way. I saw this band live and they were pretty good. The studio recordings don’t do the band justice.
Good Songs- “Atlantis

Tegan & Sara: Heartthrob- The Queens of Indie stay true to form on this outing. Mixing their unique voices with energetic samples and nonstop drums. A great choice for most occasions. Make sure you aren’t doing any dangerous tasks because you may get fatally distracted.

Yo La Tengo: Fade- Indie giants Yo La Tengo continue their long trend of making mellow albums and living in their parent’s basement. Always eating all the food and refusing to do their chores (ie: mowing the lawn). I swear, if they don’t do something productive before putting out another half-baked album, I am going to lose it.
Good songs- “Paddle Forward” “Before We Run

Monday, May 5, 2014

Episode 21

It's a brand new day. And time for a brand new episode!
This time round Alex, Ryan and a very special guest review:

Taking Back Sunday: Happiness Is...
Skrillex: Recess

So get something to eat and join us for this episode of.....

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Review: Cynic - Kindly Bent To Free Us


California based prog metal band Cynic is back with their third album in 21 years, yes, it's been 21 years since Cynic released "Focus" back in 1993. While Nirvana was in the spotlight and Metallica was still touring their most commercially succesful album (don't get the idea that I like Metallica), Cynic released the influential debut which originally received mixed-to-bad reviews from the metal scene. Cynic cited the backlash as one of the reasons for their break up in 1994, but when they returned from their sleep more than a decade later, metal had gone a long way since 1993 and "Focus" had become a cult classic, inspiring bands like Scale The Summit and Between The Buried And Me.

Fifteen years after the release of "Focus" came "Traced In Air", which was a direct continuation of the sound of their debut album (only a little softer), and was generally well received by fans of "Focus" and progressive metal in general. A series of experiments with the softer and more melodic side of the band came later ("Re-Traced", a reimagining of "Traced in Air", and an EP titled "Carbon Based Anatomy), which bring us to the release we are looking at today.

"Kindly Bent To Free Us" is the culmination of around 5 years of experimentation, and though it retains the sound and textures of their previous work it also makes away with the heavier guitar work and harsh vocals of "Focus" and "Traced in Air". The music remains moderately complex, the drums are groovy and constant and there's still guitar solos here and there, but Cynic no longer sounds like a metal band. With a runtime of just over 40 minutes the album feels a little short for a 6 years wait and it's 8 songs are over too soon even with a 5 minute average lenght.

The lyrics are someplace between spiritual (there's a little excerpt of a speech by Alan Watts) and just cryptic, but with a little imagination you can make something out of them (except the lyrics in "True Hallucination Speak", which sound just like that). The vocals retain the robotic and cold style of their previous albums, if a bit more melodic, but the main strength of the "Kindly Bent To Free Us" is the instrumental section.

Guitars, bass and drums never outshine each other, not even during solos, so the music feels generally complete and engaging, like some kind of futuristic version of a rock band from the 70's. The zeppelinesque riffs (yes, that's apparently a commonly used term), the sweet fretless bass and a  good use of ghost notes give the songs a pleasant sense of speed and groove, and while the music is generally a little cold the album certainly climaxes with the song "Moon Heart Sun Head", a 5 and a half minutes little progressive piece.

Cynic may not have reinvented themselves, they rather disposed of half of the elements that composed their early sound, but the end result doesn't feel limited, if anything it leaves them a lot of ground to explore.

Ranking: recommended
For fans of:  modern prog rock, post rock
Accessibility: moderate
Highlights: "Moon Heart Sun Head", "The Lion's Roar"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

[Review] Animals As Leaders - The Joy of Motion

Animals As Leaders are back with another intricately designed musical journey through progressive metal, jazz and beyond. The third album by the trio takes a different direction than the last two releases and it's their most refined album so far. Their debut (or to be precise, Tosin Abasi's debut, since the trio only came to be before the second release) was basically a demostration of Tosin's skills on 8-string guitar, the compositions were spacey and contained more riffs and solos than one can memorize. 

The second album, "Weightless", showed an emphasis on shredding within more "classic" verse-chorus composition, while still mantaining a heavy progressive element. Many fans of the debut album thought it was a disappointment but in my case it was my introduction to AAL and personally I enjoyed it much more than the self-titled.

Now, 3 years after the release of "Weightless" lands the third album and second trio release, "The Joy Of Motion". One thing instantly caught my attention when I first listened to it, the album features much less soloing in favor of creating sonic landscapes and a constant sense of groove; the combination of clean tones and heavily processed guitars (and often electronica) is great and the songs shift constantly through both.
This time around the album was produced by Misha Mansoor and Nolly Getgood (both from Periphery) and their influence is pretty obvious in the djent infused "Tooth And Claw" and closer "Nephele", but it doesn't stop the album from being pretty colorful and varied, from the jazzy "Another Year" to the synchopated slap guitar and bass of "Physical Education", one of my favourite tracks on the album.

"The Joy Of Motion" has one of the things I like to come across the most when a listen to an album, a collection of songs that are varied, keep you interested and at the same time feel like a coherent entity, something very few bands manage.