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Nine for 2009

October 30, 2009 Leave a comment

In no particular order/rank here are seven albums that came out this year that are worth checking out, and two that just aren’t.

The Good:

1. Emery – …In Shallow Seas We Sail

This band has really matured since the days of The Question and The Weak’s End back in ’05 and ’04.  Shedding the generic screamo feel they once had and lyrically this is exponentially better than their older stuff. They’ve fixed problems with the staleness they had with I’m Only a Man and revived (at least for me) the entire rock-emo/screamo genre.

2. Every Time I Die – New Junk Aesthetic

As if Every Time I Die couldn’t get any better, well, they did. New Junk Aesthetic is a great fusion of hardcore and southern rock by the heroes of Buffalo. This really is a must-get.

3. August Burns Red – Constellations

I don’t think this is better than Messengers, but it still is great and a perfect album to start listening to ABR if you haven’t yet.  Even if metalcore isn’t your thing, this album (and every ABR album) is worth listening to solely for Matt Greiner’s drumming.  He is a madman, and that’s good.

4. Lions Lions – From What We Believe

The first full length from Boston natives Lions Lions and they don’t disappoint. Ex-members from Thefore I Am, Vanna, and A Loss for Words came together to form this Boston superteam.  I have yet to find someone who has listened to this album and not enjoyed it.   Only gripe is that they should’ve kept “Waves” the way it was in the EP.

5. Thrice – Beggars

Warning: I am a Thrice fanboy.  This is another band that has just kees progressing album to album (except for The Artist In The Ambulance, but we can just forget that 90% of those songs ever existed) and they did it again here.  They have stripped their music down and really showcase Dustin Kensrue’s pipes.  If you like this album, make sure to check out Dustin’s solo project which is a bit more folky but a good listen in its own right.

6. Coheed and Cambria – Neverender

Technically only 12% of this has been released, but it is all out there.  These are live recordings of Coheed playing in NYC 4 nights in a row.  Each night was a different album, played through in its entirety. An amazing feat considering many bands probably don’t remember half their stuff from their debut full lengths. Anyways, it’s great quality for a live recording and reminds me why In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 is one of my favorite albums of all time.

7. Holding Onto Hope – Of The Sea…

Finally, a return to the late ’90’s and early 2000’s of post-hardcore, the way it was meant to be.  Raw, passionate, and very unique.  They are definitely heavy but can also bring some really nice clean guitar parts to lighten the mood which is needed.  Sometimes it feels like you’re trudging through mud while listening to this album which, to me at least, is appealing but i can understand why some people don’t love this.

The Unfortunate:

8. Emmure – Felony

When you entitle a song “R2Deepthroat” do you actually expect to get any respect? The sirens are old, the singing is poor, and the lyrics are so “brutal” that you can only laugh at them.  I was excited for this but I guess I’ll just listen to their old stuff and The Acacia Strain from now on.  If anyone is looking for an album to listen to so they can make fun of heavy music, this is your gem.

9. Killswitch Engage – Killswitch Engage

Obvious problem here Killswitch, you have already released a self-titled album, like eight years ago and it was way better than this piece.  I’ve put my neck out there defending these guys from haters for awhile now because they were the undisputed kings of metalcore.  This album has nothing new, nothing impressive, and is just an average (at best) attempt.  If this wasn’t a band as popular or porlific as Killswitch I don’t think I would be this hard on them, but this album is pathetic when put against The End of Hearthache or even As Daylight Dies. On a side note: If any metal/death-core band makes another song entitled “Never Again” I’m going to abandon ship and go listen to indie-pop for the rest of time.

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Categories: Roundups, Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

Exclusive Interview: Candice Night of Blackmore’s Night

October 24, 2009 Leave a comment

(It seems the link has expired; I will be re-uploading it shortly)
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When You Grow Up #1

October 22, 2009 Leave a comment

There are only 2 kinds of people in the world… AND I’M 3 OF THEM!!  We all know this is, of course, a lie.  There are billions of kinds of people in the world: short ones, stout ones… ones that wear socks AND sandals (come on guys)… ones who cite overused cliches (come on me)…. ones who are REDUNDANT (“overused cliche” is redundant… come on people, stay with me).

Now in the modern world there are just so many options for what kind of person to be.  When you were a kid, I’ll bet you had a pretty good idea of what you wanted to be when you grew up: a fireman, a veterinarian, even a princess (for some of the guys who are reading this).  Well you were young, and things have changed, now you’re not so sure.  Well LET ME HELP YOU OUT.

Every now and then I’ll be picking out a few of my favorite songs and reviewing them here.  I will then group these by what kind of person would like them.  Listen, read, and if you like 2/2 songs, I’ll suggest what you should be when you grow up.

The Songs:

“Harder Better Faster Stronger” – Daft Punk.  Yes this was a song before Kanye West got his bespectacled hands all over it.  In fact it was a really good song… This song certainly has enough of a beat to classify it as a “dance” song, but this isn’t really a get out of your chair and boogie kind of jam.  The focus is really more on the melodie, which if you hadn’t noticed, is really catchy.  For the most part, the tune is carried out by a vocoder… which almost makes you want to rise up against your human overlords, who have let you carry out all the work while they all sit on a yacht in Bill Gates swimming pool (i.e. the Bering Sea). \”Harder Better Faster Stronger\” – Daft Punk

“Heartbroken” – Meaghan Smith.  I just heard this song for the first time a few days ago and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.  This song, “heartbroken” is the kind of song that fills your heart with whimsy like the first time you had eggnog when you were a kid.  The interesting thing about this song is that the tune is so happy and upbeat, but the message is so downtrodden… So really, it’s like the first time you drank beer when you were a kid, you’re happy but you don’t have any reason to be happy.  Listen to the song on her myspace.

Did you like those?  SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?  What could these songs possibly have in common?  Well, I think that based upon your tastes, when you grow up you should be: “AN OLD FART WHO REFUSES TO ACCEPT NEW TECHNOLOGIES”.  Why?  Well if you listen close enough to each song you can hear there is that faint crackling sound that can only come from vinyl being scratched by a needle.  This sound is, of course, intentional in both songs, but come on dude… get with the times.  It’s the 21st century.  We currently have phones that allow you to browse the web to search for other phones.  We have robots that can… err… carry old people places.  Even still, there is something to be said about the faint warm crackle of an old phonograph, even if Daft Punk is throwing it through 12.2 billion filters.

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Plastiscines: About Love

October 17, 2009 Leave a comment

There are the occasions when something just makes you happy. There’s always that one context where nothing you do can make you unhappy, no matter how mundane the task is (see: reading 150+ pages of “Advanced Organic Chemistry”).

For me, those occasions seem to be accompanied by female-fronted pop-punk. The French garage rock outfit Plastiscines makes use of chunky guitars and poppy basslines to balance out a feminine flair that is just fun to listen to. To say the least, I think I’m in love with About Love.

This band is all about flair; from the album art down to the subtle background vocals that cement the sexiness of this band, there were no expenses spared in making this album a girl-punk icon. That said, in true girl-punk fashion, the feminine bit is backed up by a band that is as tough (or tougher, in a lot of cases) as the boys.

Let me go ahead and say that the guitar riffs that power this album are pure Joan Jett, and the basslines are thick, dance-y, and booming, almost reminiscent of those from the Polysics (BUT DON’T YOU DARE DRAW ANY OTHER CONCLUSIONS FROM THAT COMPARISON). Drummer Anais Vandevyvere pounds beats harder than anything I’ve heard in a long time. The overall formula of the instrumentals is as epic as The Hives (see Veni Vidi Vicious) without going into the realm of Jersey punk (you won’t find 10,000 Marbles on this disc).

So what makes this special? The vocals, most of all. As much as I love the instrumentals, I’ve placed all of them. We’ve heard punky garage rock before, and the OMG-it’s-a-girl-band craze is over, so what makes this so catchy? The answer lies in vocalist Katty Besnard. Besnard has that same sexy edge that makes Allison Mosshart (The Kills, Dead Weather) so special, but she uses it to pop ends instead of shoegaze. The difference is refreshing; we get tracks with incredible rock power without sacrificing the lithe, smooth vocal style that Mosshart made famous.

The language barrier itself is interesting. On tracks like “Camera” and “Coney Island,” the songs are entirely in French, which, as a French speaker, is pretty cool. I can imagine that to a non-speaker, a lot of the content of the song is lost, but it still sounds amazing; French is a beautiful language to sing in, though my years of conjugating verbs and identifying tenses tells me it must be a bitch to write in, which brings me to the most interesting lyric. In the song “Bitch,” Besnard claims to be a “Bitch I-T-C-H,” which, while a clever play on words (spelling? something?), also looks like a really crappy euphemism for an STD.

For this CD, start with “I Could Rob You,” then move on to “Camera.” If you aren’t hooked, just go bash your head into a wall. If you are, welcome to the club: press stop and start the disc from the beginning. It’s totally worth it.

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