Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Arcade Fire : "Everything Now"

When Kiss went into a disco phase it brought out a side of the band that churned out some of their best songs ever. This might not be the case with the new Arcade Fire. The title track feels like their take on "Disco Queen" mixed with the mid-80's solo work of Paul McCartney. I don't hear the soaring yearning I prefer coming from them, but people change and don't create from the same emotional state so I am trying to be open minded here.The disco continues on "Signs of Life" this time the Disco ball is shining brighter on this fact as the vocal are more rapped. In all fairness they have always been influenced by the Talking Heads so this song has that vibe coupled with maybe the verses of "Rapture". "Creature Comfort" is the first song that really grabs me and finds the band blending their new evolved sound with the band I used to like. This one has a strong groove and biting lyrics.

While quirky "Peter Pan" doesn't hold up in terms of hooky melodies and over song dynamics as the previous songs. "Chemistry" kinds grooves it's way out of the previous song. The there is the frantic almost punk like tone of "Infinite Content". There are some cools sounds at work here, but the pace is easy for them to get lost. Electric blue focuses on the female voice and a more disco programmed drum machine carrying the groove with vocals heavily effect and more of an ethereal gliding to how they fall over the music. . There is a more restrained groove that might bring to mind some of the Rolling Stones more disco moments. The mix on this album is weird and it can really be heard on this song as if there was ever a time to bring the bass up in the mix it would be on "Good God Damn". I think the disco groove to "Put Your Money on Me" works better as the vocals are more locked into the dynamic tension of the song.

Things mellow out more for "We Don't Deserve Love" . The mood here is more akin to what the War On Drugs does if you subtract the guitar solos and let the vocals wuss out a little more. The build gets more interesting and goes off into a more familiar soaring dynamic for them. The refrain of "Everything Now" takes the album out on a very tepid note. I'll round this album down to a 7.5 as there are some good songs, but it doesn't have much in the way of balls to it , and in their own right Arcade Fire once had the emotional depth to compensate for what they lack in terms of sonic heft. Here there feelings check in would have them at a little detached.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dead Cross : "s/t"

Mike Patton and Dave Lombardo have teamed up with members of the Locust and Retox for what is darker than I hoped, though still coated in a great deal of noise. It's eerie and angular in the same way Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum was. The songs are typically compressed into under four minutes.You can hear the grind core influence of the Locust on " Divine Filth", despite Mike Patton's vocals still bringing a little more melody even on the more punk inspired sections. Though the chaos ins out more on "Grave Slave". The production finds the distortion jagged , mixed with a claustrophobic tension. You might wonder what the difference between this and Tomahawk is. Well that is easy. This is darker and heavier than Tomahawk. There are some moments that are more blatantly metal than others. "Gag Reflex" is more metal than not.  

"Idiopathic"  rides the line between chaos and a song that makes sense. They launch in more of a thrashing speed for "Obedience School" . I expect a little more from Lombardo when it comes to playing at this intensity, and it sounds like it could be anyone behind the kit. The sound of dial up internet starts off "Seizure and Desist". Patton trades off screams, squeals and singing. "Shilelagh" finds him doing more angry punk ranting.  This almost sounds like a more feral version of "King For A Days" harder rocking moments. This metallic punk temper tantrum continues on " the Future Has Been Cancelled".  As far as songwriting goes while Patton has an abundance of energy, I don't think the melodies that do show up are really his most thoughtful or strongest work.

The reckless spastic moments that have the most in common with grind core are not the album's strongest points and keep it from being a solid piece of work so on sheer merits of the darker tone and covering Bauhaus I will round this up to an 8, but considering the level of talent present here I think expecting more is ok.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ded : "Mis-An-Thrope"

It's a crazy though that new nu-metal is being created in 2017. The first song almost makes you ready to write these guys off as wanting to be Slipknot. While this is not untrue, these guys are actually not half band and write some decent songs. Sure there are the chanted temper tantrum vocals and the rap elements on the first single "Anti-Everything" bring to mind Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit depending on where you are at in the song. It still somehow manages to work even though it is a little on the radio side of the equation so not as heavy as most of the bands we review who refer to themselves as metal. "Dead to Me' gets mired in the kinda of watered down screaming metal that nu-metal eventually defaulted to.The lyrics revert to just telling people to fuck off in various ways. Slipknot thing seems to be the more dominate motivation for the kind of music they are trying to make. Granted they don't have a bunch of extra clowns beating on things, so some of the clutter and density is not there.

The more Linkin Park like " is one of the more well written songs despite it's more pop tinged leanings when it comes to the hooks. Linkin Park always struck me as being a boy band with guitars, and this is not that blatant. "Disassociate" works better for me as the hip-hop accents and almost grunge like vocals on the chorus don''t sound just like some other band from the Hot-topic and allows me to hear who these guys actually are. "Rope" finds them trying to bring the noise to a more Slip-knot like magnitude. The sung vocals are a little more original than how we have heard them used earlier in the album though comparisons could be drawn to Breaking Benjamin.The hip hop moments work better than when they are overtly angry and angst ridden. The whole I am about to have a nervous breakdown vocal just sounds dated and silly. "Hate Me" has a more sing song chorus that sounds almost like a nursery rhyme. Then they fall back into the more pummeling Slipknot thing with the chant for you to cut them off at the knees.

"Inside" plays off all the conventions of nu-metal, but puts them together in a way that plays to their strength as a band and works well as a song where they might have fallen short on some of the other songs. "Beautiful" starts off with more of a ballad type thing going on without it being too Linkin Park, it's more like Staind or Cold. I think giving this album an 8.5 is fair. They are good at what they do , I just haven't listened to what they do in some time and take it about as seriously as I take Motley Crue.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Multiple Eargasms - the Weekly Shuffle

Ok we are two weeks in a row now, with this feature that has proven to be more popular than I would have imagined. I just press shuffle on my iPod and review the first ten songs that pop up. So here we go, hope this inspires masturbation and multiple eargasms. AFI- "Feed From the Floor" Danny Havok's vocals sound great hear and the bass line certainly invokes the Cure. This song stand more in the shadows of pop punk.I haven't give this album enough listens to that is one of the cool things about doing this feature is getting to dig back in an give things a second chance. Halsey- "Now or Never" The hook of this song reminds me of Ellie Goulding. I would say there is more of a hip-hop influence bubbling under the surface here than Goulding. The production certainly gives nods to hip-hop. For pop music this going to be one of the strongest albums of the year. The Smiths -Sweet and Tender Hooligan" One of the smiths more driving punk like moments. This shows how their influence touches both indie rock bands and post-bands. Moz sound great and the lyrics are as biting as anything else they have done. This is more straight forward playing than what you expect from Marr , but the bass line is killing it. the Cure- "Blood Flowers" This song is both sonically powerful and incredibly moving from an emotional perspective. I always forget how good this album was until I listen to it. It really does hold up against the rest of their work. Cocteau Twins- "Treasure Hiding" I normally dopn't think of these guys as shoe gaze , but I guess if this was the only song you heard from them it would be easy to slap that label on. Not my favorite song from this album as it lingers in the abstract for too long. Liz sounds great, but she could sing from the phone book and it would sound divine, the melody that comes in at 2:40 mark is awesome , but wish they got to the point. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum- Helpless Corpses Enactment Another bad that I am always glad to hear when they come up in shuffle as their are so chaotic that Sleepytime is not always my go to when cuing up something to listen to. This is one of their more metal moments, it's a damn shame these guys broke up, because I can't imagine what else they would have been capable of. Life of Agony - "I Regret" This band in their prime was criminally under rated. Too band when Keith's river started running red that he also forgot how he sang on this song and what about his delivery helped define this band and make them stand out from all the other bands in the 90s. This song is one of the few from the second album that sounded like it could have been on their first. 2Pac- "Only God Can Judge Me" This is not one of the strongest songs from "All Eyez On Me". It suffers a little more than some of the other songs when it comes to how the 90s production holds up today. Lyrically its a bunch of whining about how hard it is living in his shoes. The guest rap by Rappin 4 Tay is pretty terrible. Mastodon- "Clandestiny" I don't remember really being overly wowed by this song when I first got the album. It had endured in the competitive landscape of my iPod so that says something. Metal should not feel so middle of the road and this song doesn't hit me as being heavy enough to be metal despite it's guitar tones and most of the metal trappings being close to center. Cult of Youth - "Monsters" When they are in the more rambling folk punk strum they tend to sound less like Death in June. The baritone vocal is more rowdy and carefree than Death IN June, in fact I can hear fans of punk liking this more than tragic goths. Their earlier work was more filled with this kind of punk energy. Twisted Sister - "Burn in Hell" For anyone who wants to lump these guys in with the rest of the 80s hair metal I think this song sets the record straight. Not as dynamic vocally I think Twisted Sister has more in common with old Iron Maiden or Priest than they do Motley Crue. Unless we are talking about the Crue's first two albums then it does have a similar drive to it. The Cramps- "Bop Pills" This song is pretty much straight up rock in the vein of early 50's rock more than it strikes me as being rock a billy unless we are saying Jerry Lee Lewis falls into that as well. It's as song about drugs and those song are always good to party to.

Nine Inch Nails :"Add Violence"

I found their appearance on Twin Peaks to be odd and not in the manner David Lynch is normally odd. The first song is more aggressive than what we have gotten from the past few albums and has more guitar on it ,which is what I am most please with. Some of the synth sounds are purposefully retro. This sounds like Nine Inch Nails and doesn't conform to the current trends in electronic music. In some ways it reminds me of "Bite the Hand that Feeds" .  His vocals drop down to a lower whisper under the bleeps of the music twinkling above his speculations. This is more ambient and experimental than what we have heard from him in some time. I do like the chorus to this song and it does sound more like the classic era of Nine Inch Nails.

Reznor continues to lay the atmosphere on thick with "This Isn't the Place". It almost could be confused as an extension of the previous guitar into the more fragile = vocals come in. There is a more dynamic explosion that comes  from "Not Anymore". Overall this album feels  more organic as the drums on this song sound like they are being banged out on a kit. The drums go back to sounding programmed on the atmosphere thick .At 14 minutes there is some drone to it , but at two and a half minutes in the beat smooth out to provide a more substantial groove. It's Nine Inch Nails so of course the production should be stunning. The song could end at the 7 minute mark as it devolves into noise which was the purpose but we could have gotten to the point with it sooner.

As far as EPs from Reznor go the songs on here might not be as strong as what was on "Broken" but it is solid and I am glad he has gotten his edge back . It's darker and well balanced blend of atmosphere and aggressive bursts. I'll give this one a 9.5 , it will sit nicely against the rest of their catalog and is better than everything since "the Fragile" . So if you are a long time fan , you should be pleased that you are getting what we have wanted.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Alice Cooper : "Paranormal"

Alice Cooper was my second concert as a kid so we go back a ways. This new album finds him  going for a sound more akin to his later 70's work and less of the overt metal he had been stomping around in since his return in the 80's. I am not sure if it's the production or not , but his voice sounds amazing. It's like these are vocals lifted right from the 70s. Perhaps these are the paranormal powers at play and the christian golfer was just a joke and Vincent sold his sold his soul to the devil to retain the voice of his youth. If so it's worth it because I almost can't believe my ears. While he sounds good I am not sure of the Hendrix like funk that propels "Dead Flies" . Bob Ezrin is working with Cooper again which helps him find his way back to his more classic sound. "Fireball" is just well written rock song. There is a filter on his voice which sets him back into the mix along side the guitars. It's good to hear him singing more and not just relying on what had become his trademarked gritty narrative.

He steps out of the 70s and into his take on modern radio rock with "Paranoiac Personality". He steps back into a more familiar role vocally to blend this with his more post- Trash body of work. The backing vocals even remind me a little of Def Leppard.  "Dynamite Road" is the first song that I am digging because it sounds like a cross between "the Devil Went Down to Georgia" and "Radar Love" and is not really the kind of rock that Alice does best. "Private Public Breakdown" is an improvement, but not as strong as the first few songs, opting for a more Rolling Stones school of rock. "Holy Water" is not totally removed from some of the other songs Alice has acquired over the years, but it it's not my favorite either. It did grow on me on the second listen. "Rats" is another case of where it's not totally out of left field for him and while he does cover a wide range of rocks many flavors, this one is just to vanilla for me.

The more Pink Floyd / Dada like tone of "the Sound of A" is more satisfying for me as it's darker and seems to wink and the weird new wave time period of Alice that I love. The last two songs are preformed with the original Alice Cooper band, who have preformed in the past as Billion Dollar Babies/ He plays it pretty safe on the cross dressing ode "Genuine American Girl" where he claims to be only 30 out of 50 shades of gray. "You and All Your Friends" captures the more radio friendly sound of classics like "Elected" or perhaps to a less bombastic extent "Under my Wheels" Lyrically one of the smarter songs as Alice makes a political statement more veiled than some he might have espoused in the past. The playing of the Alice Cooper band on these songs is failry conservative and far from the more progressive slant of an album like "Killer". The same could be said for this album as a whole, it starts very strong and show a more melodic side as it progresses sinks into a safer rock n roll formula. So I'll round it up to an 8.5 for now , but that is lagging way behind his more classic work.  '

In This Moment : "Ritual"

So this is pretty much the Maria Brink show now. There is more spooky stuff going on to open the album and it feels like their will be less sexy nurses writhing around. I have often found her better to look at than listen to so lets see if this album changes that opinion. The first actual song is strange as it takes the stomp of a negro spiritual and molds it into something more sultry hard rock edges. The big chorus hooks don't come til mid way into the song. I am not sure if it is all production but here voice sounds better on this album, if she stays in more of Britney Spears like alto. But it's clear she has a better range than Spears as she can belt into her upper register.

There is a more organic feeling to this album, despite the drums not sounding real. Rob Halford shamelessly shows up on "Black Wedding" . Which makes this inversion of the Billy Idol even stranger. I make no qualms about stealing the chorus in the refrain. But some how it works. Then we get yet another cover of "In the Air Tonight". Not sure when Non-Point covered it, but seems like we don't need another cover of it. She does sing the hell out of it , but otherwise musically there is not much we haven't heard before. "Joan of Arc" feels a lot like "the Beautiful People " but a watered down less aggressive take on it.Pop and metal meet pretty evenly on "River of Fire ". I can do without the oh oh oh vocals in the background, aside from them it's a pretty solid marriage of pop and metal. I think the "let it rain" part would make this a great song for strip clubs.  If I ever wondered what Katy Perry would sound like doing metal the answer is on "the Witching Hour" . This formula is not fool proof as it backfires on "Twin Flames".

They get mired in similar almost nu-metal grounds with a slight tinge of 90s industrial rock on "Half God, Half Devil" . The problem then continues to be that they don't feel dark or heavy. They make a better stab at convincing me on "Roots' which was not the Sepultura cover I hoped for. "Lay Your Gun Down" feels more like an outro than ever building into a real song.I'll round this one up to a 7, I think I like the sexier KMFDM sound better, though the pop infused stuff can work. I guess if you are are fan this is par for the course.