Album Review

Album Review: Foo Fighters- Concrete and Gold

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Redemption is the first word that comes to mind when talking about the new Foo Fighters album Concrete and Gold. The follow up to the highly disappointing Sonic Highways is everything you’d want in a Foo Fighters album. It has the rock, the great mid tempo songs, and the delicate melodies that we’ve all grown to love and enjoy in a Foo’s album. Concrete and Gold is also seething in inspiration from 70’s rock bands and their albums from that era. Dave Grohl and company deliver the goods and then some. From the riffs, melodies, and all around vibe this album emits, you are in for quite a treat.

As “T-Shirt” begins the album in a way that is reminiscent of “Doll” from The Colour and The Shape, the way the song flows perfectly into the high energy “Run” is undeniable. Not to mention that “Run” is the classic Foo’s song that was very much needed. Plus the video is hilarious. “Make It Right” is a solid mid tempo song that fits in the sequence of the album and also features guest vocals from Justin Timberlake. “The Sky Is A Neighborhood” will be a classic for the band, no doubt about it. Everything about this song is great. “La Dee Da” is one of my favorite songs on the album. The fuzzy bass line (courtesy of the underrated Nate Mendel) that starts the song immediately grabs your attention and the rest of the song rocks your socks off. Allison Mosshart from The Kills guests on this song as well as “The Sky Is A Neighborhood.” Saxophone player Dave Koz lends his sax talents to the song as well. “Dirty Water” is one of those Foo’s songs with delicate melodies and a softer vibe. It’s another one of those songs that in the context of the album it really fits but as a stand alone song, not so much. “Arrows” is one of those songs that really emits the 70’s sound. The guitar work on this song from Chris Shiflett is stellar. The entire band sounds amazing on this song. “Happily Ever After (Zero Hour) seems a little out of place at first listen but, as you keep listening to the album, this song really grows on you especially because of the lyrics. “Sunday Rain” is another of my favorite songs on the record. This song features drummer Taylor Hawkins on lead vocals and he sounds absolutely great. It’s a great change of pace for the band plus this song just rocks. Paul McCartney plays drums on this song too. There is a cool funk vibe on this song that plays into my thought’s of the 70’s influence but, there is also a kind of George Harrison element to it as well from his All Things Must Pass solo album (an album that is truly a masterpiece… George was the most talented Beatle… I dare you to challenge me on that!). Keyboardist Rami Jaffee really shines on this song as well. His contributions to the song really bring out the “vibe.” “The Line” is a classic Foo’s rock song but with a more melodic twist. Having three guitarists in the band really shows on this song. You can really hear each of Dave’s, Chris’s and Pat’s style and tone on this song. Closing out the album is the title track “Concrete and Gold.” This song oozes Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath.  Not only is this song a great closer but, it’s also epic in the way it plays out and makes you feel. Surprisingly the “choir like” vocals are provided by Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman, and it fits perfectly.

Concrete and Gold is the album the Foo Fighters not only needed to make but also an album the rock world needs. Dave Grohl proves that he is one of this generations best songwriters and the entire band, Taylor, Chris, Nate, Pat and Rami play their asses off on the record. Besides One By One and Wasting Light, I’d dare say this is the most complete Foo Fighters record they have ever released. Thank you Foo Fighters for this album and redeeming yourselves and then some. I can’t wait to hear these songs live. Rock isn’t dead. In fact it’s beyond alive and well!

Overall Rating: A

 

Foo Fighters- Concrete and Gold:

 

 

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Album Review: Brand New- Science Fiction

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When bands take their time to come out with a new album, that album is then dealt an extreme amount of anticipation along with high expectations. Most of the time though, the end result is pretty bland and disappointing. That is not the case though with the new album entitled Science Fiction by Brand New. Instead, this album lives up to every expectation you’d expect from the band and then some. Brand New has never been a band to repeat themselves, which makes their catalog one that stands out among their peers. Science Fiction is the long awaited follow up to 2009’s Daisy. It’s also been announced that this will be Brand New’s final album. Since it’s release, Science Fiction debuted at number one on the billboard charts. A first for the band and a welcome surprise to all.

The album itself is a deep reflection of life and all the emotions we go through. Back in 2006 when The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me was released, Brand New set a blueprint as to what “emo” albums should be. On Science Fiction, the depth that they reached on The Devil and God is summoned once again, with a delicate and soothing yet dynamic approach. From the moment the first song “Lift Me Up” kicks in, there is a real sense of calm that descends upon the listener. As the album continues songs like ” Can’t Get It Out,”  and “Could Never Be Heaven,”  really hit at the heart strings. “Same Logic/Teeth (which is my favorite track on the album as of this writing),”  adds to their repertoire of classic songs. “Out Of Mana (one/if not the “heaviest” song on the album),” and “In The Water” almost transcend the genre. “No Control” is a mid tempo song that is very sincere. “451” is a cool bluesy song. It reminds me of a song that The Black Keys wish they could write. Closing out the album is “Batter Up” one of the best songs Brand New has ever written. Not only is it a solemn song but, it’s also a great farewell to a very influential and inspirational career.

Bands like Brand New don’t come around that often. Their ability to take their time and put out an album when the time is right and they feel the songs/album is done is almost unheard of these days. Their artistic integrity and songwriting prowess really shows on their sleeves with Science Fiction. Something else that gets overlooked with Brand New is the musicianship of all the members. Each person in this band has a place and plays their instruments with the exact feel needed to make the songs the best they can be. If this is really their “swan song,” then they really hit the mark and are giving you every ounce of themselves on this album. Science Fiction is definitely making the top ten albums of the year.

Overall Rating= A

 

Brand New- Science Fiction:

 

 

Album Review: Dead Cross- Dead Cross

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It’s not everyday that a project lives up to the hype these days. In fact, the majority of “new and exciting” projects fall flat and leave you with nothing but a feeling of disappointment. That is not true though of the new band Dead Cross. The band was originally formed in 2015 by drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer & Fantomas), bassist Justin Pearson (The Locust, Head Wound City, Retox), guitarist Michael Crain (Retox), and on vocals Gabe Serbian (The Locust, Head Wound City, Retox), the latter though was replaced by the legendary Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, etc).

Let me just cut to the chase. The debut self titled album from Dead Cross is, 10 songs and about 30 minutes of blistering hardcore punk rock that will leave you one, wanting more, two, wondering where this style of vocals Mike Patton has been for the longest time, three, damn… Dave Lombardo really is the soul of Slayer, and four, Justin and Mike have really outdone themselves in bringing back a sound that has been often copied and tired but not really done right. There are moments that really bring out the Mike Patton we all know and love, from the time he spent with The Dillinger Escape Plan, when they made Irony Is A Dead Scene. Songs like “Seizure and Desist,” “Idiopathic,” and “The Future Has Been Canceled,”  really show that side of Mike. The rest of the album is full of Hardcore Punk meets Fantomas and a bit of Mr. Bungle. Other tracks like “Obedience School,” Shillelagh,” “Divine Filth,” “Grave Slave,” and “Gag Reflex,” are beyond stand out songs. The sheer magnitude of force that pummels through those songs and the rest, provided by Dave, Michael, and Justin, is astonishing. One other gem on the album is the cover of the Bauhaus classic, Bela Lugosi’s Dead. Just listen to the whole album and you’ll hear the greatness

Dead Cross is the type of band that is needed for today. In the age we are in and with what is going on, this is the type of energy that can help. The combination of Dave Lombardo and Mike Patton is always welcome and appreciated. The inclusion of Justin and Michael, really brings out something special in those two. I truly hope that Dead Cross is a band that will stay for some time. I’d really love to hear this band develop and become something kids can get inspiration and influence from.

Overall Rating= A

 

Seizure & Desist:

 

Grave Slave:

 

Obedience School:

 

PRE-ORDER THE ALBUM HERE (Album is out August 4th):

 

 

Album Review: Less Art- Strangled Light

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There is something to be said for taking the time away from a main project and really letting yourself get fully immersed in something new. The members of Less Art have done just that and have made an album that stands out among all the other work they’ve done and then some. Their debut album Strangled Light is a fully inspired and influenced album. Riley and Ed Breckinridge of Thrice, Jon Howell and Ian Miller of Kowloon Walled City and on vocals Mike Minnick of Curl Up and Die have paid their respects to their influences but, taken that and turned it into something all their own.

Throughout the 9 song album, Less Art lay the foundation for heaviness and maturity. Each song feels like they spent the time to really hone in on a vibe and feeling. With each listen, you tend to pick up on a different emotion that puts you in a different headspace, in a good way. The moment the first song “Optimism As Survival” begins, the shivers begin up your spine. There is also a brutality to the album that is carried over from their main bands. When you listen to songs like “Diana The Huntress,” “Mood 7 Mind Destroyer: Guilt,” Pessimism As Denial,” and “Crushed Out” you can really hear their hardcore roots show through. Then there are songs like “Wandering Ghost,” “Shapeshifter,” What Is In It Man?,” and the closer “Strangled Light” that really show who Less Art really are. Their sheer knack to remain heavy but, at the same time vulnerable is what makes them special.

Something really intriguing about Less Art is, Ed Breckinridge is playing guitar rather than bass (as he does in Thrice) on the album. This move has really allowed him to shine as a player and writer. And with him and guitarist Jon Howell, they play off each other in a way that fits the feel of the song. The rhythm section of Riley Breckinridge and Ian Miller builds on the mold of great post-hardcore duo’s. Vocally, the emotion, pain, thoughts and ideas of Mike Minnick are beyond stellar.

Less Art’s Strangled Light, is an album that is very much needed. There is a sense of hope to these songs that when you grab a hold of, you won’t let go.

 

Overall Rating: A

 

Less Art- Strangled Light:

 

Album Review: Nine Inch Nails- Add Violence

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How do you keep people’s attention these days when everything is so “instant?” Well, Trent Reznor has figured out a way to keep himself busy and creative. Rather than release a full length album, Trent has broken up the album format with a series of 3 EP’s. The first EP, Not The Actual Events was released late last year and set a tone of what was to come. The sounds permeating through combine lots of synths, ambience, new wave and industrial. In a way, Trent has pushed the boundaries towards a more stripped down “post-industrial” sound. The new EP, Add Violence, is chock full of intelligent and dark laden vibes that will make you feel like you are riding a huge wave into an abyss.

The first track “Less Than,” is a perfect way to open the EP and grab your attention. The song itself has a bit of a Pretty Hate Machine meets Hesitation Marks sound, giving you that “full circle” approach to where Trent is at in his musical journey. From there the EP takes a left turn and moves in a very Bowie-esque way. “The Lovers” and “This Isn’t The Place,” really show the love Trent has for Bowie in the way the music is delivered and the way the vocals are performed. There is definitely inspiration on these songs from David Bowie’s final album Blackstar. “Not Anymore” takes you on a sharp right turn from there and thrusts you into a reverb saturated, dark synth, almost classic angsty Nine Inch Nails song. Closing out the EP is “The Background World,” an almost 12 minute song that is layered with multitudes of sounds and synths that have an almost Massive Attack sort of feel to it.

Add Violence is Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross doing what they do best, and that is all you could ever ask for. Their work together over the years has truly become intriguing and thought provoking. The scores they have done for different films seems to have really inspired them both to see where they can take Nine Inch Nails. These 3 EP’s are not only the logical step for Trent and Nine Inch Nails but, also seems to be a new model for releasing music.

Overall Rating= A

 

Nine Inch Nails- Add Violence:

 

Less Than Video:

Album Review: Eighteen Visions- XVIII

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Comeback albums aren’t easy to make. There are so many different ways it can go wrong yet, if it’s done right, then the payoff in the end is tremendous. 10 years ago following the misstep of their major label debut, Eighteen Visions called it quits. Everyone associated with the band went on to other bands and projects. For years fans had been wondering if they would ever see the Orange County hardcore band again. Every chance the press got to interview a former member, it seemed that it wasn’t in the cards. Now, I’m not sure what pushed them to get the ball rolling again, perhaps it was the passing of bass player Mick Morris a couple years back, or maybe it was even their desire to get back to what they did best. Either way, Eighteen Visions are back and with a vengeance.

Their first album in ten years, XVII, is 10 songs of pure unrelenting old school Eighteen Visions. This is the album they were meant to make. It harks back to their early days a la Until The Ink Runs Out and adds a dash of Vanity/Obsession. Singer James Hart sounds better than ever. Guitarist Keith Barney is still pumping out tasty riffs and dramatic breakdowns. And drummer Trevor Friedrich is pounding away on the drums with such fury.

From the moment the opening song “Crucified” hits, you know you’re in for quite the ride. As “The Disease, The Decline and Wasted Time” comes in, the album is already in full swing and it won’t let go. The song “Live Again” is a solemn tribute to the late Mick Morris, and it shows the real growth of each member in the band. Other stand out tracks from the album include “Oath,” “Laid To Waste In The Shit Of Man,” “Picture Perfect,” and the closing track “For This I Sacrifice.”

As a fan of the band for many years, this is the album I’ve been wanting them to make for years. It has the explosiveness of their very early days and it also has bits of melody sprinkled through some of the songs, to separate them from the rest of their peers. This isn’t just a comeback though, this is a reinvigorated band firing on all cylinders with something to prove to themselves. It shows in their dedication to make this album and go for it. On a side note, I have to say I’m really stoked on the fact that they made this album without crowdfunding. XVIII will go down as one of the band’s best albums. I can’t wait for them to tour this album.

 

Eighteen Visions- XVIII:

Album Review: Mastodon- Emperor Of Sand

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Mastodon are one of the best bands to come out in the last 15 years. They have always been a band that stuck to their guns and let the music speak for itself. They have managed to evolve as a band as organically as possible. When you have four members that all fit together to create something so deep and poignant, it leaves a lasting mark. On their new album Emperor Of Sand, Mastodon gets back to what they do best, making albums. Drawing from their personal struggles and family tragedies of cancer, Emperor Of Sand tells the tale of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence. This album is one of their deepest lyrically since Crack The Skye. So much so that, when you are listening to the album the story and words take you on a journey that is separate from the music. There is something truly remarkable about this album with its ability to give you two different ways to listen. One being just the music and the other with the lyrics and story.

Working with Brendan O’Brien again, who was in the producers chair for Crack The Skye, gets the band back on track. Songs like opener “Sultan’s Curse,” “Precious Stones,” “Roots Remain,” “Ancient Kingdom,” “Andromeda,” Scorpion Breath (featuring Scott Kelly of Neurosis on guest vocals) and closer “Jaguar God,” all have the Mastodon DNA ingrained in them. Other songs like “Steambreather,” Word To The Wise,” and Clandestiny,” see the band stepping out of their comfort zone a bit more and experimenting with different melodies and tones. The one odd ball song on the album “Show Yourself” is the biggest departure Mastodon has ever done. The lyrics and theme of the song really fit with the album, but musically it’s a sharp left turn.

All in all, Mastodon, has really dug deep and returned with a fantastic album. They are masters at what they do and it shows. They are truly making complete albums, something that a lot of bands seem to be forgetting about. After listening through the album a few times, I’ve determined that it’s sonically similar to Crack The Skye with a bit of Once More Round The Sun, and a dash of Blood Mountain. Mastodon are one of the few bands since the turn of the century to really leave a lasting mark. Had they come out in the 90’s, I think they would have been one of the biggest bands of the era. Not only that but, I think they would have a Tool-esque following.

Overall Rating: A

 

Mastodon- Emperor Of Sand: