Friday, September 27, 2013

More Of The Same On New Eyes Set To Kill Album

Metalcore band Eyes Set to Kill announced their fifth album this summer and said that it would be called Masks because they were finally taking off their mask and being able to be themselves. This is good since the band's first four albums had very little experimentation and all of the songs sounded similar. Now this is not bad, Eyes Set to Kill are a great band and they write great songs, but all of their songs are similar.
The band, fronted by Alexia Rodriquez who does clean vocals and their unclean vocalist Cisko Miranda who also does cleans sometimes, have a model for most of their songs. It's usually unclean verses, clean choruses. While there is some change, that's usually how their songs go.
On Masks there is little to no change. While there are some songs that stick out, most of the songs all sound the same. This is not to say that the songs are bad. They're all good but only a few of them stick out.
"Lost and Forgotten," "Where I Want to Be," "Surface," Little Liar," "The New Plague," Infected," "The Secrets Between" and "The Forbidden Line" all stand out and are catchy. They stand out around this sea of clean choruses and breakdowns.
"The Secrets Between" and "Where I Want to Be" are both previously on their last album, 2011's White Lotus. That is where the band make a mistake; putting older, better songs on the album.
While the album isn't the best thing that Eyes Set to Kill have done, it is a great record. It leaves behind the acoustic undertones of their previous album for 13 songs of straight aggression and heaviness. Eyes Set to Kill for all of their flaws are still a great band and they continue to make great new albums. Regardless of whether or not a band can go on making the same album five more times, that remains to be seen.

Natalia Kills Grows Up On New Album

Natalia Kills released her sophomore album Trouble this month and it's a step ahead from her 2011 Perfectionist. While that album was like a darker version of Lady Gaga with guitars, this album takes half of the Gaga influence away and throws in a huge Lana Del Rey influence. The album is full of melancholy lyrics and guitar licks. This is show perfectly on the opener and best song on the record "Television." The song starts out with lyrics about the magic of television but then in the last minute of the song Kills turns it around and sings in a fragile voice over a piano.
"Where I'm from it all goes wrong/ It's not like on the television/ The darkest days don't fade away/ Can't turn it off like television," Kills sings during this little interlude which is followed by a scream of frustration to end the song.
The album then goes into the first single "Problem." This guitar filled dance rocker is about being a badass, something Kills knows a lot about. The third track "Stop Me" takes on a softer more dance inspired sound. Kills talks about her daddy issues on this song, which is a theme she examines in detail on this record.
The next song brings back the guitar and swagger that is expected from Kills. "Boys Don't Cry" is a great song and it features Kills taking about a breakup. On the next track, the Hall & Oats sampling, "Daddy's Girl" Kills examines her relationship, or lack thereof with her father. Kills told Marie Claire Magazine about her childhood. " I have this awful riches-to-rags childhood story: When I was born, my family had a lot, but by the time I was 11, my dad had been accused of being a criminal and we were visiting him in jail. The police took everything.
That can explain the lyrics to many of the songs on this record. Two of the best songs on the album are up next. First is the second single "Saturday Night" which features lyrics about her troubled childhood and tinges of domestic battery. She eased the pain with going out and partying to forget about her issues. The song recalls Lana Del Rey and Robyn and is a great song. The next song, "Devils Don't Fly" is a gorgeous breakup song which is one of Kills' best songs to date and it contains the best lyrics. The song talks about the pain of losing a love and the hopeless feeling after a breakup.
The album loses steam on the next track "Outta Time." This old school soul sounding track isn't bad, but it's not as powerful as the other songs.
The album picks up on the next two songs. "Controversy" is a social commentary about the world we live in. It tackles drugs, criminals and a plethora of other topics. "Drink the Kool-Aide/ Don't drink the Kool-Aide," Kills sings during the chorus.
The next song is "Rabbit Hole" which recalls Gwen Stefani's second solo album. It has a very marching band, hip hop sound and is topically similar to "Problem." It recalls the sound and attitude of her debut.
"Watching You" is a breakup ballad that is decent, but nothing compared to the next track "Marlboro Lights." This track is a gorgeous ballad which deals with medicating after the end of a breakup. The track is about not being able to escape the memory of a past love. This along with "Devils Don't Fly" are the perfect breakup song.
The final track is the title track and a decent song. It recalls Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift, melding the two into a good closer. By the time that this song comes about, it's too late and overplayed.
Natalia Kill is the most underrated pop artist out there. She is nowhere near being as big as she deserves.

Sheryl Crow Goes Country On New Album

Sheryl Crow released her eighth album and first country album earlier this month. Feels Like Home is hardly the most country album ever, but for Crow it's country as fuck. While Crow has mixed country into her songs before this album is the most country thing she's done.
The album starts out with two easy breezy country anthems "Shotgun" and "Easy," the album's first single. These songs are about pure fun and enjoying life with riding in a truck and getting drunk on a beach.
The next song, "Give it to Me" is sex song, or as close to a sex song as country can get. The song has soulful vocals from Crow and is great song. The next song "We Oughta Be Drinkin'" is a song about as crow puts it "getting shitfaced." This song is an album highlight and should be a single.
The next track, "Callin' Me When I'm Lonely" is along the same lines of "Give it to Me." It's about Crow's ex calling her when she's lonely and trying to get it in.
"Waterproof Mascara" is a tearjerker of a song. It's about a single mom who has to deal with no t having her son's father in his life. She wants her son to have a dad and her ex is clearly not around.
"It won't run like his daddy did," Crow sings during the chorus. This song is purely heartbreaking and gorgeous.
The next song is one of the best songs on the album "Crazy Ain't Original." In this song Crow examines the crazy world we live in. She examines pop culture and our fame obsessed society.
"Well those neighbors we all tried to stay away from/ Twelve kids were not enough, they had thirteen/ And what everybody used to call a freak show/ Well now we call reality TV," Crow sings during the second verse.
"Nobody's Business" is a country rocker about a relationship that Crow is in that people can't seem to stop talking about.
The next song "Homesick" is a forgettable ballad but it's followed up by two of the album's best songs. "Homecoming Queen" discusses a woman who peaked in high school and "Best of Times," which is a fast rocker where Crow again examines our culture.
"I've got a custom Continental/ Made in 1965/ With a "save the planet" sticker/ That makes it kind of hard to drive," Crow sings in the first verse.
The album closes with the ballad "Stay at Home Mother," this song has a similar theme to "Waterproof Mascara." It's a decent song, but not as good as the latter or a lot of the songs here.
This album is surprisingly good and it's one of Crow's best cohesive albums. Hopefully she keeps with the country sound for her next album.

Tonight Alive Get Darker On New Album

Pop-punk band Tonight Alive have always created energetic music with heavy pop-punk influences. Their sophomore album, The Other Side has a darker and heavier sound than before while retaining the passion and energy that the band had in earlier releases.
The album isn't as good as their 2011 debut What Are You So Scared Of? but it does have a lot of good songs. The album opens on a strong point with the first single "The Ocean." The song is a great opener to the band's new sound. The next song, "Don't Wish" is a great follow up song and lyrically covers the topic of a breakup.
"Don't wish that she was me," front woman Jenna McDougall sings tauntingly during the chorus. This song is an epic statement of freedom and her way of saying that he had his chance.
The next song and second single keeps up the momentum of the first two songs. "Lonely Girl" is possibly one of the best songs on this album and it's the most close to their debut album and EPs. The song, which lyrically talks about the end of a friendship, keeps up the energetic and heavy sound that the band have put into place for this record. McDougall clearly has lots to say on this record.
The fourth song on this record slows things down to a degree. "To Hell and Back" deal with finally moving on from a breakup. McDougall is stronger than ever.
"I went to hell and back just to be where I am today," she sings during the chorus.
McDougall is what makes this band so great. Her lyrics are always touching and relatable and her vocals truly make you feel what she's singing.
This is especially true on the title track and best song on the album. A song about recalling an old relationship. McDougall remembers it fondly even though it ended badly. She seems to still miss her love but she knows now that things are better after going through rough times. This song is universal and will relate to anybody. This song is the best song on this album, if not one of the band's best songs ever.
The next song, "The Fire" returns to the heavier sound the band is exploring on this album. It's fast and fun yet packed with emotion, like all of the best Tonight Alive songs.
"Complexes," the next song deals with insecurities. This song is something that anybody can relate to.
"Are you embarrassed of me," McDougall sings in the first line of the song.
The second half of the album tends to bleed together. "Come Home" and "Say Please" stand out, but songs like "Bathwater" and "No Different" aren't memorable. The album ends on a high note with the balladish song "You Don't Owe Me Anything." The song starts out with piano but soon gets heavier.
Tonight Alive are such a good band and it's high time that they get the credit they're due.

Ellie Goulding Rerelease Adds Little To Already Perfect Album

Ellie Goulding released her sophomore album Halcyon last fall and it was a great album. It was a step up from her debut album Lights and the soundtrack to many a break up over the last year.
Halcyon Days, the album's rerelease came out in August and it was a good addition to the album, but it wasn't really necessary. There are a lot of good songs but Goulding could have just released a new EP or entirely new album altogether.
The rerelease begins with it's two best songs, the single "Burn" and "Goodness Gracious." The latter being an upbeat dance track that should be the next single. It's the catchiest and most authentic song on the rerelease.
Most of the album's best songs are it's dancier numbers. "You My Everything," "Stay Awake" which is a collaboration with French producer Madeon and "Flashlight" which is a collaboration with British DJ, DJ Fresh. These songs are some of the best songs and really capture the listener's attention.
While there are several slower songs, none are as good as "Hearts Without Chains." There are a few other slow songs, and while none of them are bad, they aren't as good as some of her other songs "How Long Will I Love You?" is a piano filled song that somehow falls flat. "Tessellate" is a cover of a song by Alt-J which has a more R&B feel to it, the same as "Midas Touch" which is a cover of a song by soul band Midnight Star. While these R&B songs are a good direction for  Goulding to go, they add little to this rerelease.
While these songs are all good, few of them stand up to songs that are on the original version of Halcyon. There could easily have been a smaller EP released with about four or five fewer songs.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

DevilDriver Stay Constant On New Album

Groove metal kings DevilDriver released their sixth album Winter Kills last month. The album is very similar to all of their previous albums. Most of the band's music sound the same. Grove metal with elements of melodic death metal.
While each song on the album is good, sometimes they tend to blend together. In fact, it's almost hard to tell any of the songs apart. Usually this is a detriment to the band, but DevilDriver are such good songwriters that each song is worth listening to.
One of the things that make the band so appealing is their frontman. Dez Fafara is so adept at his harsh vocals that each song is brought to life by them. Songs like "Oath of the Abyss," "Caring's Overkill" and the title track all stick out against the others. Each song full of aggression and melody.
Other highlights include first single "Ruthless," "Haunting Refrain" and "The Appetite." All of these songs are enjoyable. In fact, each song on here is good.
While none of the original songs are as memorable as some of their other past songs ("Shitlist," "Dead to Rights"), there is one song that shines above all others. This is "Sail," which is a cover of the AWOLNATION single. This is a rare cover that is as good as the original. Fafara's delivery in this song may be the best of his career.
While this album isn't the best metal record of the year, it is a good listen that will keep the listener entertained. Hopefully DevilDriver can keep up the greatness.

Blessthefall Continue To Grow On New Album

Last month Blessthefall released their fourth record Hollow Bodies. This is their best and most cohesive album to date. While their last two records were great and their debut was decent this album wins.
This record, the band's third with clean vocalist Beau Bokan, is a step forward from their last album Awakening, which itself was perfect, but Hollow Bodies steps up Blessthefall's game. The album stars out on a heavy note.
The first four songs are some of the heaviest on the record. "Exodus" starts the album off with a fury then the records two best songs "You Were A Crown But You're No King" and the title track come next, flowing nicely into the second single "Déjà Vu." The album then slows it down with "Buried in these Walls." This song tones things down for a little, giving the listener a false sense of calm. The next song, "See You on the Outside" is a faster song but it isn't as heavy. Unclean vocalist and bassist Jared Warth is barely heard on this song. While Warth is a great screamer, Bokan is the vocalist who truly shines on every song.
The next song "Youngbloods" is one of the heaviest songs on the record. The song, which features additional vocals by Jesse Barnett of Stick to Your Guns, also is the first time the band use profanity in their lyrics. "You're just a bitch," they scream before a breakdown in the first verse. The album then goes into "Standing On the Ashes" which is like all the songs before it, brutal. The lyrics of the album are predominantly about a breakup.
"Carry On" which features vocals by Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red is another heavy song that starts with Warth's screams and then goes into Bokan's clean vocals. The next song "The Sound of Starting Over" is a less heavy song than the rest. The song is made up of almost entirely clean vocals from Bokan.
The album closes on a high note with the best song on the record, "Open Water." This song, which is a duet between Bokan and his wife synthpop singer Lights is simply gorgeous. The song is a perfect way to end this record.
Blessthefall have truly grown and released their best album. Hopefully they continue on the path of greatness they got on with Hollow Bodies.