Archive for March, 2011

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart / Belong

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on 290000003UTC 12 by marky7235

BelongThe Pains of Being Pure at Heart are an indie pop band from New York City.[1] Their first album was a self-released EP which came out in 2007 through the Painbow label.[2] Their debut self-titled full length album was released on February 3, 2009 via Slumberland Records.[3] The band name comes from an unpublished children’s story of the same title that a friend of singer Kip Berman wrote.[4][5] The group’s self-titled album peaked at #9 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.[6] On September 22, 2009, they released Higher Than the Stars, their second EP.[7] The band released their second album, Belong, on March 29, 2011.

The Analysis:

Belong—-I am a bit surprised at the onset of the song…the sound a bit more electronic and bombastic than I expected. The vocal enters and sets everything right in my brain….this is so serene underneath the sound that you are lulled into a comfortable spot almost immediately. This is classic…..reminding me a lot of Silversun Pickups on this song…just enough reverb and psychedelia to allow me a smile.

Heaven’s Gonna Happen Now—-Still surprising me with the urgency of the music that the band is producing on this release, the vocal again settles my irritation and allows me to realize how beautiful the song s actually are. there are such pleasant harmonies on this…I am swept up in the continuing chapter of this band. This is more metallic but still has a remnant of peaceful joy to the whole damn thing. Brilliant!!!

Heart In Your Heartbreak—-Sounding like London 1983, this is a favorite track of mine!!! This is wonderfully layered pop that manages to make you feel euphoria despite the entire meaning of the song. This has such a great rhythm section…I’m blown away by the talent of this band…I will listen to this just as much as the debut….perhaps even more!!!

The Body—-Continuing much in the same vein as the previous track, this reminds me of New Order so much for some reason. The vocal is so sedate…once the layered chorus enters you are swept up in the mood of the track and the band can do no harm. this is exquisite, beautiful pop. I have been waiting and waiting for this release and I could not be happier!!!

Anne With An E—-This begins as I expected this entire release to begin…calm…sedate and serene…reminding me of broken hearts and overwhelming loneliness. Brilliant sadness that somehow allows an undercurrent of hope…all magically wrapped up in beautiful vocals and a soundtrack that I would love even without words. This is fantastic!!!

Even In Dreams—-Again, the band has an introductory bass line that reminds me again of Silversun…..the tradeoff of vocal duties is wonderful…allowing the entire release to sound fresh and unexpected. The reverb on this track is exquisite…the urgency and the noise is a nice surprise but fits the style of the band better than I ever imagined possible. Once again….I am in love!!!!!

My Terrible Friend—-Once more….reminding me of classic old school New Order……this is fantastic…..!!!! The odd keyboard sound carries heavy references to NO and The Cure, but the vocal is so much like Sumner I am almost stunned. The chorus hits and the song becomes even larger. Just magnificent….I am so happy with this release……this band can do no wrong!!!!

Girl Of 1,000 Dreams—-Returning to a full on throttle pop/rock sound, this is fantastic. This has a nice attitude to it that causes me a smile and a huge euphoric feel. There is an energy to this band that really propels me to seek them out live. I must experience this all in a live setting. A truly magnificent collection of songs, this is another of those that has become an instant favorite!

Too Tough—-Deeper in sound and again featuring the male counterpart of the band, this might almost be too much of a good thing for me. Perhaps the placement should have been a bit different? The chorus is a nice blend of voices though…allowing you a full feeling of the band. This is excellent…there is an almost JAMC layered sound of reverb that makes me smile even as I think about forgetting it. It won;t leave your head…here to stay….happily!!!

Strange—-Ending this release far too soon, the band delivers a deeply layered song that again only produces a huge smile from me. I am so pleased with this effort that I’m still puzzled why this is not being played everywhere. This has exquisite layering…a magnificent bass line and just enough electronics to keep you entertained. the lyrics on the entire CD cause you to stop and think about life, cry about life and ponder the meaning of it all. Just fantastic!!!!

****3/4 out of 5

Crowbar / Sever The Wicked Hand

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 270000003UTC 12 by marky7235

Sever The Wicked Hand

Crowbar is an American sludge metal band from New Orleans, Louisiana, characterized by their extremely slow, low-keyed, heavy and brooding songs that also contain fast hardcore punk passages. Crowbar is considered to be one of the most influential metal bands to come out of the New Orleans metal scene.

The Analysis:

Isolation [Desperation]—-For me, the remarkable thing about this band is the dense sound they produce while still sounding incredibly clear and tight. This is deep sludge at times, but never loses sight of the melodic lines that are actually necessary to produce songs. The vocal is nice….brutal at times, but still understandable and filled with lyrics that are full of angst and anger. Just remarkable!

Sever The Wicked Hand—-This is delivered at a much faster pace….keeping the intensity and the momentum at full throttle. the vocal for me is phenomenal…there is surprising clarity and a melody that allows the song to be listenable even during the heaviest moments. For me, this is a triumphant release!

Liquid Sky And Cold Black Earth—-This begins so achingly slow that you almost want to fast forward through the intro…but the ensuing sludge and darkness is well worth the wait. This builds and builds…creating layers of sadness and doom that will stick with you for some time. This is the Blackest Sabbath I have heard in quite some time….proving that darkness and despair is alive and well in the US Metal scene. The vocal….damn near perfect!!!!

Let Me Mourn—-Returning to a faster but none the less just as crisp delivery, the band seems to me to be playing better than ever. This band manages to create a huge wall of sound that makes me smile inside in a secret maniacal kind of way. There are some marvelous Alice In Chains styled harmonies on this song that are not only surprising, but damn pleasant as well. This is fantastic!!!

The Cemetery Angels—-Much faster and making me think of classic Testament, this is laden with bass but still manages to sound crisp and clear. There is a remarkable melody that runs through the song…only heightened by the harmonies that are produced by overdubbing or the entire band actually singing all together. This is a monstrous track….a huge wall of sound.

As I Become One—-Still led off by a barrage of deep bass, the song has a jaunty lead line that saves it from sounding a bit too much like everything else. the vocal is classic…reminding me more of Chuck Billy everytime I hear it. This is fantastic….something I will be listening to for quite some time. The break in the middle of the song makes it even more phenomenal!!!

A Farewell To Misery—-Beginning with a ballad style intro, you wonder right away where this is all going to go. It certainly creates a mood at the very onset that is almost impossible to shake…the deep and morose bass line is heavy and mournful. The vocal enters…in an almost monk like chant style…..adding to the heavy sadness of the track…this is damn near brilliant!!!

Protectors Of The Shrine—-Returning to full on throttle Sabbath mode, the song is almost a shock after the previous entry…but welcome as it returns the band to what they do the best. This is darker than ever…the lyrics are intense as anything on this release. the drums are monstrous as they seem moved up in the mix. This is stellar….rock on…..

I Only Deal In Truth—-Crisp and concise, this has an almost crunching sound to it. This reminds me more of Kingdom Of Sorrow than Crowbar, but anything new is welcome from this band. The vocal is tortured as are the lyrics….intense and dark….just as the Dr. ordered them to be. Again, the drums are impressive as hell as are the vocals…you are able to easily catch damn near every word.

Echo An Eternity—-Beginning with another huge melodic line that combines the best of the bass sound of the band with nice high hats and leads, the vocal enters and you are treated to the closet thing to a ballad this band has ever produced. This is remarkable….nice harmonies…incredible lyrics and a slow plodding feel that fits the mood incredibly well. Masterful!!!

Cleanse Me, Heal Me—-With a HUGE drum intro, and a lead line that threatens to almost overwhelm the ever-present bass delivery, this is as close to Thrash as this band gets. This sounds so much like Kingdom Of Sorrow….I can almost hear Jasta singing his way through the track. It is almost hard at times to even differentiate the vocals from one band to the other…there are many similarities. This is incredible…..never a complaint!!!

Symbiosis—-Another of those releases that I hate to see end, the band manages to leave us as fresh and invigorated as they greeted us. This is a huge track…..the sound is a big wall of deep and dark sound that makes me smile my broadest smile yet. The vocal is so Osbourne…I can almost hear Sabbath dripping live from the ceiling in approval. A huge song….better than the opener…leaving me with a thirst that every record should leave a listener with!!!!

**** 1/2 out of 5

Lupe Fiasco / Lasers

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on 260000003UTC 12 by marky7235

Lasers

Wasalu Muhammad Jaco (born February 16, 1982), better known by his stage name Lupe Fiasco (pronounced /ˈluːpeɪ/ LOO-pay), is an American rapper, artist, producer and CEO of 1st and 15th Entertainment. He rose to fame in 2006 following the success of his critically acclaimed debut album, Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor. He also performs as the frontman of post punk band Japanese Cartoon under his real name.[1]

Raised in Chicago, Fiasco developed an interest in hip-hop after initially disliking the genre for its use of vulgarity. He adopted the name Lupe Fiasco and began recording songs in his father’s basement, and joined a group called Da Pak. The group disbanded shortly after its inception, and Fiasco soon met rapper Jay-Z who helped him sign a record deal with Atlantic Records. In 2006, Fiasco released his debut album Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor on the label, to commercial and critical acclaim. He then released his second album, Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool, in December 2007. The single “Superstar” became a hit, peaking at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2] His latest album, Lasers, was released on March 8, 2011 after several release date delays.

In addition to music, Fiasco has pursued other business ventures, including fashion. He runs two clothing lines, “Righteous Kung-Fu” and “Trilly & Truly”; he has also designed sneakers for Reebok. He has also been involved with charitable activities throughout his career, including the Summit on the Summit expedition, and in 2010 he recorded a benefit single for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

The Analysis:

Letting Go—-The release begins with a nice landscape of sounds…..and a hook that is almost magical from the very first listen. Reminding me of Superstar a great deal, Fiasco enters with his vocal in a slight distorted manner. The lyrics are heavy and laden with images of the poor and the difficult parts of life…but that hook comes back and grabs you…allowing to bounce yourself through the gritty tale. Just fantastic!

Words I Never Said—-Still delivering a bit of a distorted vocal, the piano that leads off this track is almost beautiful. the bass hits and takes the song to that next level. Lupe enters with his vocal and the sound is clear and concise as he extolls his beliefs about 9/11 and the government involvement. This is fantastic…the song has a huge sound to it…the finesse that Fiasco delivers his raps with are exquisite…hard to believe this is only release #3. The chorus is as you would expect…huge and contagious as hell….another definite winner that shows a hook and intelligence that is rare these days.

Till I Get There—-Returning to a more relaxed sound that reminds me of the very first release, this is calm but still laden with lyrics that will cause you to pause and think. The jaunty sound of the music is incredible…the chorus is another sing a long type affair that lands in your brain and refuses to leave. I just love this guy!!!

I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now—-Wow….this was a surprise for me…the song has a nice electro feel to it that I never expected to hear from Lupe. The delivery is much faster than anything he has ever done…but it works so well…it takes a few listens for you to really catch every word that is being delivered. Of course the chorus is a huge affair that almost borders on Emo-Rap….just masterful!!! This is a must have!!!

Out Of My Head—-Beginning with the hook right from the onset, the song becomes addictive from the very first listen. The hyper…ever-rising style music is addictive as hell. The vocal that delivers the sung chorus is fantastic and almost takes away from the entire body of the song. This is brilliant…the track is delivered with a feeling of urgency and need. I just love this!!!

The Show Goes On—-Again….the chorus deliveries on this release are just huge….I would love to see Lupe play the Vans tour!!! This is nice….the verses are classic Fiasco, but the chorus takes this to a whole new level…delivering a melody line that is more addictive than the best drug on the face of the earth. This is just stellar!!!

Beautiful Laser [2 Ways]—-With a huge auto-tune chorus, this is another keeper. The sound of the song is rather dark and has a nice Alternative sound…this guy is a master of rap that will please anyone. This is styled much like some of the songs from the first release…but is delivered with a better punch and an almost hypnotic melody line that sucks you in from the very first listen…this will be in rotation for me for quite sometime!!!

Coming Up—-With a nice piano style intro that still delivers a nice hype feel, Fiasco delivers a vocal that is set to music that makes you think of classic Tupac!!! This is California rap…delivered with a handclap that makes the track huge, a chorus that makes it addictive and a piano underneath it all that makes it accessible as hell. This is just incredible!!!

State Run Radio—-Lupe delivers another pseudo-political song that makes you really pay attention to the lyrics, although it is rather difficult with the hype that is accompanied in the song. The verses are full of words and sentences that makes you think about the state of the world for African-Americans. The chorus comes in and almost wipes out the powerful nature of the verses. All in all though, this is stellar…an incredible delivery of political, consciousness raising words!

Break The Chain—-Perhaps my favorite track on this release…the song has a huge chorus…a music delivers that builds at times almost like a rave classic and a vocal that is delivered so fast it is almost impossible to keep up with the words that are being spit at you. Just when your ears become exhausted, the chorus comes back and sucks you in and allows you to relax once more. This is stellar…really one of the best tracks on this release!!!!

All Black Everything—-Beginning in a rather sedate manner, the track really becomes alive. Fiasco delivers line after line of idea oriented lyrics that make you really think about what the country would be like if it was really all black, all the time. This is an interesting concept and a huge undertaking for a three-minute song, but fiasco manages to deliver with no problem. This is really a though inducing song…making you process the words and the idea. This is fantastic…..wow…imagine if everything were reversed? Wow!!!

Never Forget You—-Ending the release as relaxed as it began, you have time to digest everything in the middle as if at a feast!!! The chorus is not nearly as powerful as some, but the laid back and throw back sound is monumental…the deep bass line, the sharp high hat that catches your ear…this is just fantastic!!! Fiasco may very well be the future…but for me…he is very here and now!!!!

****3/4 out of 5

The Strokes / Angles

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on 250000003UTC 12 by marky7235

Angles

The Strokes are an American rock band formed in 1998 in New York City. The band consists of Julian Casablancas (lead vocals), Nick Valensi (guitar), Albert Hammond, Jr. (guitar), Nikolai Fraiture (bass guitar) and Fabrizio Moretti (drums and percussion). The Strokes have been named one of the most prominent indie bands to emerge in the 21st century.

Upon the release of their debut album Is This It in 2001, the group met much critical acclaim.[2] Since then, the band has maintained a large fan base, mostly in the UK, US, Canada and Australia. A number of members have embarked on a variety of side projects, although a fourth album, entitled Angles, was released on March 22, 2011.

The Analysis:

Machu Picchu—-Coming out of the silence with a slight bit of a more Electronic sound than expected, you are wrapped in a blanket of comfortability the moment Julian opens his mouth. This is The Strokes…a bit less raw, a bit more polished but delivered with energy and committment. I love this man…the rest of the band is pretty awesome also!

Under Cover Of Darkness—-Returning to a more garage based sound that hearkens back to the 90’s raw sound of alternative, Casablancas howl seems almost a normal part of every track. This has a nice drum track…moved to the very front of the mix. Julian croons at times….I love that part of his voice. This is a classic Strokes track…seemingly like a perfect track for the frontman’s previous solo record…yet the band makes it its own…injecting it with energy and urgency…really a favorite track of mine.

Two Kinds Of Happiness—-Every track…from beginning to end on this release manages to be a surprise to me…this is no exception. The musical landscape is a bit relaxed from the very onset…Casablancas delivers a vocal that is pushed to the back of the mix and only comes forward for the huge chorus. this becomes noisy and then settles again at a moments notice…just remarkable. The guitars delivered on this track are exquisite…the drums in your face as expected and the vocal causes shivers!!!

You’re So Right—-This is incredible….full of a New Wave flavor I never expected. The vocal effects add so much to the song…causing your ears to believe there are many Julian’s singing all at once. The guitar is fantastic and electric. The rhythm section is key…adding a full landscape to the song…as the bass guitar takes you places away from the song. This is stellar…damn near genius!!!

Taken For A Fool—-With a nice guitar lead and a snotty vocal, this reminds me more of early Strokes records than anything else on this release. At times it actually makes me think of The Cars!!! Only the magnificent vocal of Casablanca’s reminds you whom you are listening to. This is yet another magnificent track…energetic and delivered with surprising commitment!!!

Games—-This REALLY reminds me of some of the tracks from Julian’s solo effort. The electronics is all over this track…laden with an emotional bass line and some keyboards that rival the best of the 80’s. This is beyond perfect…this is a dream for me…I will be loving this release for a very long time….let’s hope it is not another 5 years before we are rewarded.

Call Me Back—-Beginning with a nice high tuned bass line, Julian delivers a creaky vocal that only causes me to smile. His false miserable mood makes me almost laugh. This is a nice throwback to classic UK 80’s pop….reminding me that anyone can be miserable enough if you wish yourself to be. This song seems to be devoid of drums altogether…a bit of a surprise for me. This is quiet, introspective and features a vocal that is full of air and a nice attitude of despair…stellar!!!

Gratisfaction—-A nice return to the Garage-infused pop that made this band a favorite, this track is another favorite of mine. Julian delivers a stellar vocal, but for me it is the band that steals the show on this song. The drums are incredible and the leads are addictive as hell. When the whole band joins in on the vocal, the song becomes huge and pleasant. Fantastic!!!!

Metabolism—-Much more aggressive at the onset, the vocal enters and slows the momentum a bit…but the whine from Julian is so masterful you barely notice. At times, Casablancas even manages to howl his way through the song…reminding me of a watered down Muse….all of these songs will play so well in arenas and festivals for the band. The guitar is fantastic and the drums are delivered at a frantic pace. When Julian sings that he wants to be somebody…you want to remind him…he really, really is!!!!

Life Is Simple In The Moonlight—-Ending this stellar release on a somber note at the onset, the chorus that accompanies this track makes it another very favorite song of mine. this is exquisite…Julain delivers a schizophrenic vocal that again gives me goosebumps from head to toe. This is the end and it makes me sad…but perhaps this is just the beginning…hope you guys are writing already….I need more from you. This is a fantastic release!!!!

***** out of 5 [!!!!!]

R.E.M. / Collapse Into Now

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 180000003UTC 12 by marky7235

Collapse Into Now

Collapse into Now is the fifteenth studio album by the American alternative rock band R.E.M., released on March 7, 2011, in Europe and March 8, 2011, in North America.[1][3] The album is produced by Jacknife Lee and R.E.M.

The Analysis:

Discoverer—-I hate to begin a review with clichés’, but the first thing you notice about this record is a true return to form. The band….sounding phenomenal, delivers the sound of a young and upcoming group full of energy and urgency. Stipe is almost indecipherable at times…reminding you of the early 80’s. The guitar is driving and electric and the energy is contagious. This is simply fantastic!!!

All The Best—-Continuing a more aggressive and throwback sound, this song is another that is delivered with remarkable urgency and energy!!! Stipe has not sounded this invigorated in years…the chorus is huge and catchy as hell. The guitars are electric and full of familiar yet amazingly fresh sounds…this is superb!!!

UBerlin—-This is nice…..allowing you to settle from the electricity of the first two songs….the track features my favorite thing about this band…a remarkable harmony from Mike Mills……just exquisite. The song has an almost acoustic flair to it…allowing you to easily lose yourself in the sound. This is beautiful, introspective and damn near brilliant!

Oh My Heart—-The intro to this track is nice….shifting gears once again and allowing Stipe to have the forefront of the song. the vocal is quiet and the lyrics introspective and a bit full of melancholy. this is brilliant….especially when Mills enters and assists in the harmonies. This would not be the same band without him…I believe he is the great unsung hero of R.E.M. I could never ask for more from this band…quickly becoming one of my favorite new releases!!!

It Happened Today—-Without a doubt, my favorite track on this release. The song features everything that I love about R.E.M….a gentle guitar delivery, a calm and introspective vocal delivery from Stipe and a beautiful and essential harmony from Mills. All of this is piled on top of each other…creating a nice landscape that becomes a beautiful and essential track in the bands catalog!!!

Everyday Is Yours To Win—-Allowing a bit to much melancholy between energetic tracks, this addition seems to almost suck some life from this release for me. I am ready at this point to hear a bit more of an aggressive sound, but I’m not the producer after all!!! Stipe delivers a gentle vocal although it is much more pushed to the back behind the guitar and seems a bit filtered to me. That is not to say this is a bad track, it just suffers a bit from the sameness of the previous 3 songs.

Mine Smell Like Honey—-Returning to the full throttle rock that first established the band, this song is another favorite of mine simply because of the backdrop vocal from Mills. I love this guy…wishing he would record a solo record where he can actually sing a whole song!!!! This is driving, aggressive and full of enough ebbs and flows to keep me interested through the entire track. Stellar!!!!

Walk It Back—-Just as quickly, the electricity ebbs and we are again treated to a nice introspective piece of music that is tender and gentle….bordering on damn near beautiful. I have no complaints about this one…it is featured by a very upfront vocal, a stellar percussion and a guitar effect that only allows me to smile from ear to ear…..superb!!!

Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter—-Again, the band returns to a full throttle song that is delivered with a mania that fills me with energy and joy. This is fast…like The End Of The World!!!! This is classic R.E.M…..full of energy….garbled vocals, handclaps and a vocal from Patti Smith that gives so much depth and addition to the song you will play it over and over again. Fantastic…..delivered with a nice Punk edge!!!!

That Someone Is You—-Gosh I love Mike Mills…..he seems to handle much of the vocals on this track and the result is nothing less than stellar. This has a nice surf pop sound to it that makes me smile and feel great. I dance around the living room like an idiot…enjoying this so much…the best release this band has managed in the last 10 years…just incredible!!!!

Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando And I—-Delivering another introspective type track, this is layered with a nice mellow sound, an interchange between Stipe and Mills and a gentle guitar that is only broken by the slight fuzz that runs through the backdrop of the song. This is brilliant…..only serving to remind us why this band has been around as long as they have. Hail to the KINGS!!!!

Blue—-Beginning with a spoken word type of delivery, this is a clear definition of the classic alternative track if I have ever heard one. When Patti Smith enters the fray once again, you are transported back to a place when intelligent music really mattered. This is a fantastic closer for a pretty damn incredible track. Well worth the wait!!!!

****3/4 out of 5