Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In This Moment Improve New Sound After Their Worst Album

In This Moment's last record, 2012's Blood was critically acclaimed and won over new and old fans alike. I however find that album to be overrated and miss the older records like 2007's Beautiful Tragedy or 2010's A Star-Crossed Wasteland which was in my opinion their opus. The metalcore influence that was present on all of their first three albums. Maria Brink and crew claimed to have found their identity on this industrial metal mishap. While Blood had a few great songs ("Adrenalize," "Whore") it lacked the spark of their first three albums.
When the band announced their album Black Widow and posted on social media about "finding their sound" I was a bit skeptical. However when the band released the album's first single, "Sick Like Me," in September I was impressed. The single was heavy and melodic and mixed in everything that In This Moment had done successfully in the past.
The rest of the album is a step up from Blood. The title track is a dance oriented track that has an intro discussing black widow spiders. The song is a sexy anthem that is heavy and catchy and great. Second single "Big Bad Wolf" is by far the heaviest song on the album. On the song Brink wrestles her inner demons resulting in aggression but also infectious music. "Bones" is a more melodic song that deals with the aftermath of a breakup. Brink sings about not being able to move on from a past love. The song is melodic in the verses and then gets very metal on the hook. "Bloody Creature Poster Girls" is about as close to Lana Del Rey while "Natural Burn Sinner" is a gay anthem about loving yourself. Think "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga or "Raise Your Glass" by P!nk gone metal.
The album's best song is "Sex Metal Barbie." This hip hop inspired anthem is a big middle finger to the haters and bloggers who say that Brink isn't metal enough because she's a woman. Brink is the topic of many a negative comment by people stating that the band are bad and the only reason their famous is because Brink is attractive.
"I heard I don't belong in this scene/ Sexy metal Barbie/ Homicidal queen," Bring sings during the chorus.
While most of the songs are amazing there are a few moments where the band fall short of greatness. "Into the Darkness" is a creepy and downright weird interlude with uncomfortable spoke words by Brink and a man. "Sexual Hallucination" which features Brent Smith of Shinedown is a boring, slow moving ballad that doesn't really go anywhere.
Other than those few mishaps, Black Widow is a great record. It isn't In This Moment's best work but it is better than Blood and that says a lot. This album has helped me regain love of one of my favorite bands. If they keep along these lines they'll get many new fans and have a lot of success.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jennfer Lopez Regains Greatness On New Album

Jennifer Lopez released her eighth album A.K.A last month and it's great. After a few decent albums, Lopez finally stepped up her game.
Whether aiming at the dance floor on songs like "Booty" which features Pitbull, Lopez is at her best. "Tens" which is a bonus track on the deluxe edition features Jack Mizrahi is a dance anthem about fashion and attitude. The album's best song is the title track which features T.I. The song is a hip hop anthem about leaving a lover behind.
"Now I'm Mrs. never stick around/ A.K.A/ Never hold you down/ A.K.A/ Can't figure it out/ A.K.A/ You don’t know me now, oh/ You don’t know me now," Lopez sings with attitude during the chorus.
"I Luh Ya Papi" which features French Montana is an ode to Latino men and sex. "Acting Like That" is a slow hip hop song that features Iggy Azalea. "First Love" is a poppy song about finding true love.
A.K.A. also houses some of Lopez's most effective ballads. "Never Satisfied" is an R&B ballad about Lopez being hard to please in relationships. "Let it Be Me" is a gorgeous acoustic love ballad.
While most of the songs on this record are great some could be done without. "Worry No More" featuring Rick Ross is stupid and a waste of time. "Emotions" is an overdramatic ballad that doesn't really go anywhere. Both of these songs are nowhere near as good as the original first single that was later scrapped for the album, "Live it Up" which featured Pitbull and was a fun dance anthem about living life to it's fullest and having a good time. For the life of me I can't figure out why this song wasn't huge. It had the perfect carefree attitude and club ready sound that should have made it a shoe in at Top 40 Radio.
While there are these unfortunate mistakes, Lopez still shines on tracks like bonus tracks "Same Girl" featuring French Montana, "Troubleaux" which features Nas and the best bonus cut "Exertease (Ready Set Go)."
This album mixes in all of Lopez's strengths and explores many different genres. This is a victory for Lopez. While sales have been low for this record I have hope that this record will eventually explode and a big hit single will bring new life into the album.

Mary J. Blige Releases Sluggish New Album

Mary J. Blige tried to pull a Beyoncé and announced the release of her twelfth album that just happened to be the soundtrack for the film Think Like a Man Too. While Beyoncé's album was great and experimental, Blige's new record is far from great.
Blige has always been known to make emotionally charged music. Usually she releases strong albums but this record seems thrown together. There are a few highlights that make this album somewhat worthwhile.
"A Night to Remember" is a funky cover of the 1982 hit single by Shalamar, This song kicks off the disc right. "Moment of Love" is a midtempo R&B song that discusses love and living in the moment. "See That Boy Again" is a funky R&B song that features Pharrell and is finding love in a club. First single "Suitcase" is the best song on the album and deals with a breakup. Blige has had it and she's packing up and leaving her lover.
"While you're trying to explain/ I'll be zipping up my suitcase," Blige sings during the chorus.
This song is a moment of strength and sass "Power Back" is a song that deals with taking back power in a relationship. "Vegas Nights" brings a hip hop soul sound with a guest appearance from The Dream. This song along with "Suitcase" recall Blige's former glory and make the listener sad that this album isn't better.
The rest of the songs are boing and not memorable. They all seem to blend in together.
This record is sure to be considered great by hardcore Blige fans but casual lovers of the singer may not be impressed. Hopefully after this misstep Blige's next record is a lot better and helps her regain her footing in the music world.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beartooth Release Heavy Debut Album

When Caleb Shomo was in Attack Attack! he mad great music but it wasn't the heaviest in the bunch. When they broke up he formed Beartooth which has very heavy music.
On Disgusting Beartooth have some heavy songs with very few clean vocals. "Beaten in Lips," the first single and one of the album's best songs has heavy verses with Shomo screaming and then a melodic chorus.
However more melodic moments like album highlight "In Between" and "Relapsing" go between clean vocals and harsh screams seamlessly. This is also a great success for Shomo and Beartooth. The chorus on "In Between" has got to be the album's most gorgeously sung chorus and melodic break form the aggressive album.
"Up on the mountain I see down below/ It's easy to lose yourself I know/ Can't hear what you're shouting, I'm deaf to your show/ It's easy to lose your self control/ Everybody gets high, everybody gets low/ Life can be such overdose/ Up on the mountain I see down below/ It's easy to lose yourself I know in the in between," Shomo sings during the chorus.
Other songs like "Dead" and "I Have a Problem" are nearly devoid of all clean vocals. This is also a good sound for the band. It goes to show that Shomo is an effective vocalist regardless of the style of singing in which he is performing.
The album's only attempt at anything near a ballad is "Sick and Disgusting." This song is the closing track and has a slow start. It features Shomo doing a more talk/scream/sing combo.
Beartooth are a good band but they're nothing compared to Attack Attack! That being said Disgusting is a good record and hopefully they continue to keep up with this sound and keep more good records coming.

The Word Alive Keep It Real On New Album

The Word Alive have always been a very eclectic band. Their music combined metalcore along with post-hardcore and experimental metal. Their first two records had a more experimental sound. On Real, their third album, The Word Alive focus more on metalcore with experimental influences.
This album, unlike their previous records 2010's Deceiver and 2012's Life Cycles don't have as many filler songs. Every song on this record is memorable and good.
From the melodic moments like "Lighthouse" and second single "Broken Circuit" to heavier moments like third single "Glass Castle" and "Your Mirage," the band do it all.
This is mostly done with help from singer Telle Smith. Smith's vocals can go from screams to singing at the drop of a hat and he does so very well.
The album's two best songs are the closers. "To Struggle and Claw My Way" is a heavy song that deals with tackling haters and living life to it's fullest. "Collapsing" is a power ballad that recalls early Brand New, Taking Back Sunday and The Used. This song is gorgeous. Smith's clean vocals are great but his screams are really what steal the show on this track. They sound so emotional and painful and truly convey how broken he feels.
Another highlight is the album's opener and first single "Play the Victim." This song recalls past hits 'The Hounds of Anubis" and "Dragon Spell" off their first and second album's respectively.
Real is a great album and goes to show that The Word Alive are not going anywhere. They can keep growing and making great music.

Arch Enemy Unleash War On New Album

Melodic death metal band Arch Enemy announced in March that their longtime vocalist Angela Gossow was leaving the band to spend time with her family and she was to be replaced by Alissa White-Gluz of The Agonist. Fans weren't too sure about how this would sound but later on in the month the band released the title track and first single off their ninth album War Eternal. This song not only proved to silence the haters, it is one of Arch Enemy's best songs.
"Remember who you are/ This is fucking war," White-Gluz screams during the bridge.
This is a battle cry against all of the haters who didn't think that Arch Enemy would continue to be great. On tracks like "As the Pages Burn" and "On and On" the band shine like they always did.
The music on this disc is at an all time high for Arch Enemy. Songs like "You Will Know My Name" and "Time is Black" have some great guitar melodies and the drums are out of this world. Instrumental tracks like "Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F minor)," "Graveyard of Dreams" and "Not Long for This World" all show that the band are far from over and that they still have their chops.
White-Gluz is just as great a vocalist as she ever was on any The Agonist songs. Gone are her signature pig squeals and clean vocals. The only clean vocals are heard on the chorus of "Avalanche." The clean singing is layered under harsh vocals and barely noticeable. White-Gluz had great control of her vocals in The Agonist's songs and that is sorely missed here. However her harsh vocals are great and after a few listens you really get used to the fact that her clean singing days are numbered quite easily.
War Eternal is a great record and she opens a new chapter in the Arch Enemy book. Here's to the new Arch Enemy.

The Amity Affliction Release Decent Album

Australian hardcore band The Amity Affliction released their fourth album and it, like their previous three, is decent but nowhere near as amazing as it could be. The band have so much potential but they just don't live up to it. Let the Ocean Take Me is simply just there.
Good songs on the album include "Pittsburgh," My Father's Son" and "Don't Lean on Me." While these songs are good they are far from great and won't have listeners craving to hear. The band are great musicians and the vocalists are good, but nothing can make this album more memorable.
Hopefully The Amity Affliction can step up their game on album number five and get a lot better.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mariah Carey Is Not Elusive On New Album

Mariah Carey released her fourteenth studio album Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse in May. While the album has a few hiccups, it's mostly great.
The album opens strangely enough with the gospel influenced ballad "Cry." The song is a gorgeously sad breakup song that leads well into the next track "Faded." The midtempo R&B number is classic Mariah and features some killer pipes from the "chanteuse."
"Dedicated" features Nas and is all about the old school days.
"I'll just sit right her and sing that good old school shit to ya," Carey sings."
"#Beautiful." is up next. The album's first single which features Miguel is a nice soulful sound and is definitely one of the album's best songs. "Thirsty" is up next and is a hip hop leaning track that features lyrics about an ex lover who is thirsty for attention. This is also one of the album's best songs. Up next is "Make it Look Good." This song is a soulful track with harmonica from Stevie Wonder and it's great.
The album continues with the third single "You're Mine (Eternal)." This song is a decent song from Carey and sounds like it could be off any of her last few albums. It's nothing special but it's a good song all in all. Next up is the fourth single "You Don't Know What to Do," which is a disco track that features Wale. This song is a fun danceable break from the more hip hop and R&B leaning tracks.
The next track is "Supernatural" which features Carey's children under the moniker "Dem Babies." The song is kind of sappy but cute at the same time. Carey is added to the list of singers like Beyoncé and P!nk who have had their children on songs.
"Meteorite" continues Carey's descent into disco. It's a catchy song and should be a single if Carey's label has any sense. "Camouflage" is an unnecessary ballad that I really don't remember much about. "Money" features Fabolous and is a great song that recalls Carey's early music. "One More Try" is a George Michael cover and is a decent ballad and Carey really makes it her own. The album closes with "Heavenly (No Ways Tired / Can't Give Up Now)" which is a gospel song that is a tribute to Reverend James Cleveland.
The deluxe edition bonus tracks include two songs that were on Carey's last album Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel. "It's a Wrap" which features Mary J. Blige." The song really wasn't much to write home about but Blige's new vocals really add to the song. "Betcha Gon' Know" features new verses written and performed by R. Kelly. This song was better without Kelly's vocals but it is still a decent remix. The album's other bonus track is the album's second single and former title track "The Art of Letting Go." The song is another gospel inspired song that deals with a breakup. The song starts out with a piano but halfway through the breakdown kicks in with guitars and percussion. The song is great and should have been more successful as a single than it was.
Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse is not Carey's best album but it is an amazing comeback after a five year break. Here's to Mimi reclaiming her crown.

Cher Lloyd Matures On New Album

British singer Cher Lloyd rose to fame with her debut album, 2011's Sticks and Stones which spawned bratty hits such as "Swagger Jagger" and "Want U Back." While these songs were great her songs were a tad immature.
Then in September 2013 Lloyd released her single "I Wish" which features rapper T.I. The song featured a mature sound with Lloyd's signature sass. The single was followed by the grown up "Sirens" in March of this year and then in May her sophomore record Sorry I'm Late.
The album, unlike her debut is consistent but also has more mature songs. "Just Be Mine" which is one of the album's best songs is upbeat and wouldn't sound out of place on her debut but the lyrics speak of growth. Mike Posner also gets a writing credit on the song.
"Even though I'm wrong just be mine," Lloyd sings.
"Human" which is another one of the album's highlights and was written by singer LP shows Lloyd singing about how she's only human and nobody is perfect. "Sirens," the second single, also shows off Lloyd's mature side. "Sweet Despair," which was co-written by Beth Ditto of Gossip is another mature break up ballad.
Lloyd shows that she still knows how to get silly to good results. "Killin' It" is a party anthem while "Dirty Love" is all about sex. "M.F.P.O.T.Y." which stands for "Motherfucking Party of the Year." is a rock influenced song about going to the club with your friends and getting hit on by lame boys.
The album's best song is "Goodnight," an acoustic love ballad that is both gorgeous and touching.
Sorry I'm Late definitely improves on it's predecessor and shows that Lloyd will continue to grow and become one of pop's powerhouses.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Destiny Potato Finally Release Debut Album

It's been a while but I'm finally back. It's been a hectic month or so and I'm finally back to blog for you guys. I'm going to start with Destiny Potato and their debut album Lun. They make progressive metal with a pop twist and the outcome is grand.
The best thing about the band is Aleksandra Djelmas, the front woman with an amazing set of pipes and great screams. The rest of the band also compliment her well with the music.
The band are best when the music is heavy. "Indifferent," "Addict" and "Lost Dreams" are some of the best songs where the band let loose.
The band's melodic interludes "The Build Up" and "Machine" are both epic and help the listener take a breather.
The album's best song is definitely the first single "Love Song." It starts out with a folk inspired intro before going into some serious guitar riffs and melodic singing from Djelmas. The song begins with lyrics about lover who Djelmas will never let go of. By the bridge though she seems to change her tune.
"Screw you, Fuck you/ Hmmm... I hate you/ This time for real," Djelmas sings.
Other highlights include the electro-metal madness that is "U.Y.M." and nu-metal inspired "Take a Picture."
While there are no bad songs on the album the ballad "House of Lies" is boring and could be left out.
Lun is a great album and show that Destiny Potato have what it takes to become one of metal's powerhouses.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lily Allen Wears Too Many Crowns On Sheezus

Lily Allen has always made great music that sticks out from the crowd of over-manufactured pop tarts. On 2006's Alright, Still Allen mixed pop in with ska, reggae and hip hop. On 2009's It's Not Me, It's You Allen had forsaken all things dancehall for a synthpop outing with elements of country and jazz thrown in. Both albums had lyrics dealing with social commentary and family and romantic relationships.
On Sheezus, out earlier this month, Allen mixes in all those things into one album and it's not always the best thing.
From social commentary on the dubstep-filled "URL Badman" or the funky "Insincerely Yours" or married life on "As Long as I've Got You," Allen does good on these songs. Other songs that Allen pulls off with ease are the electropop first single "Hard out Here" and "Take My Place." The latter is the most emotional songs on the record, dealing with the miscarriage Allen suffered in 2008.
Some songs aren't as memorable as others. "Close Your Eyes" is a slow R&B song that is meant to sexy but it doesn't turn out successful. "Life for Me" is a silly song that is about married life, however Allen has done this song better on this album and this song comes off as redundant and annoying.
The two best songs on the record are the title track and second single "Air Balloon." The title track is a sarcastic pop song that deals with the world's obsession with pop divas.
"Ri Ri isn't scared of Katy Perry's roaring/ Queen B's gone back to the drawing/ Lorde smells blood yeah she's about to slay you/ Kid ain't one to fuck with but she's only on her debut/ We're all watching Gaga/ Lol oh ha ha/ Dying for the art so really she's a martyr/ Second place will never cut it for the divas/ Gimmie that crown bitch/ I wanna be Sheezus," Allen sings during the chorus.
The song references Kanye West's 2013 album Yeezus. "Air Balloon" is another synthpop song that has bubblegum pop influences and social commentary in it's lyrics.
This album is good, it's just weighed down by the many styles of music Allen attempts to pull off. Hopefully on her next one she'll cut down on the many different hats and truly become Sheezus.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brody Dalle Goes Solo

Rocker Brody Dalle is no stranger to the music industry. She fronted punk band The Distillers from 1998 to 2006 and released three albums and an EP with them and rock band Spinnerette from 2007 to 2010 releasing one album and one EP with them.  While The Distillers in my eyes were very overrated, Spinnerette was amazing. Both band's sounds shaped the sound for her solo debut Diploid Love.
The album has it's hard rocking moments that are more influenced by The Distillers and more polished like Spinnerette. Rockers like "Rat Race," "Dressed in Dreams" and third single "Don't Mess With Me" recall The Distillers but have Distillers undertones.
"Parties for Prostitutes," "Blood In Gutters" and "I Don't Need Your Love" would fit in nicely in a Spinnerette release.
The album's best song though is the first single "Meet the Foetus/ Oh the Joy." The song starts out with a very Spinnerette first half "Meet the Foetus" and then a very Distillers inspired second half "Oh the Joy." The song features background vocals by Garbage singer Shirley Manson. This is Dalle's best song out of he solo work and on all of the albums of band's past.
Other highlights include the synthpop inspired "Carry On" and "Underworld." The album has no bad  songs and Dalle would do well to keep too this formula for her next album.

Iggy Azalea Is Classic on Debut Album

Australian rapper Iggy Azalea's debut album The New Classic was released last month and it really is a classic. The album mixes in hip hop with elements of dance, reggae and trap music.
The album's best songs have been released as singles. "Work" was the album's first single. This song is very personal and deals with Azalea's rise to fame. Azalea came to Miami at the age of 16 to try her hand at modeling. It deals with her struggle to make it as well as her work ethic.
"I been up all night/ Tryna get that rich/ I've been work work work work workin' on my shit," Azalea sings during the chorus.
Third and fourth singles "Change Your Life" which features T.I. and "Fancy" which features Charli XCX are the album's two best songs. "Change Your Life" is a dance inspired song that deals with living the high life. This theme is carried over into "Fancy." The Charli XCX assisted song is a sassy bad bitch anthem that is currently blowing up radio speakers around the world. These two songs are the best because they are so fun and are sure to get parties started for a long time coming.
"Black Widow" is the album's upcoming fifth single. The song was co-written by Katy Perry and features British pop singer Rita Ora on the chorus. The song is a breakup anthem that is similar to Perry's hit "Dark Horse."
While the album is great, there are some songs that don't quite hold up next to the rest. "100" which features Watch The Duck is a silly hip hop anthem about keeping it real. "New Bitch" is a boring song that is about a new relationship. These songs could easily have been cut.
However Azalea makes up for it on bangers like "Goddess," Impossible is Nothing" and "Walk the Line." Other highlights include "Fuck Love" and "Lady Patra" which features reggae singer Mavado.
In a world where new rappers suck, Iggy Azalea is a breath of fresh air. The New Classic may not be perfect but it's most likely going to be one of the best hip hop albums of the year, if not the best.

Kelis Finds New Sound On New Album

Kelis has always been experimental. From the Neptunes produced rock/R&B/dance/hip hop hybrid of her first three albums to the hip hop inspired fourth record, Kelis Was Here,  Kelis always was outside the box. Then in 2010 Kelis released Flesh Tone which was a dance album that while it was good, was a step back for the singer.
On her sixth album Food, out last month, Kelis has a more throwback soul sound that mixes in rock and electronic elements. Gone is the aggression of her debut single and first hit "Caught Out There." Gone is the sexuality of her biggest hit "Milkshake" and the attitude of "Bossy."
The album starts with three of the album's best songs. "Breakfast" is a joyous love song that starts the album off right.
"So much of who we are/ Is who first taught us how to love," Kelis sings.
First single "Jerk Ribs" is a great track that is soulful with great percussion and a killer saxophone melody. Next is the album's best track "Forever Be." The song is also the poppiest on the record. It's catchy and Kelis' label would be foolish if this wasn't the next single off of her album.
The next song is a boring ballad "Floyd." This song has good vocals from Kelis and a good chorus but the song isn't as great as the previous three tracks. Kelis keeps things midtempo on "Runnin.'" The song is better and has very honest.
"How can I forget you/ You're never late/ You're always right there to my rescue," Kelis sings.
"Hooch" picks things up with a faster tempo and more danceable melody. This song is a highlight of the album. "Cobbler" is very similar keeping the up-tempo part going.
Next is another highlight. "Bless the Telephone" is an acoustic cover of a song by Labi Siffre. It's a duet with Sal Masekela who is the album's only featured artist. The song is soft and vulnerable, something Kelis rarely is.
"Friday Fish Fry" is up next. This up-tempo track has Kelis' most soulful vocals on the album. The song has a Western vibe to the instrumentation. "Change" is another low point of the album. The song is decent but doesn't stick out compared to the other songs.
Second single "Rumble" is another highlight. The song discusses her divorce from rapper Nas. The album hits another snag with "Biscuits n' Gravy." This song is a piano based ballad that is boring and starts out too slow and never really picks up. The album closes on a high point with "Dreamer." This song is a very graceful ballad. It's one of the best songs on the record and it is a great idea to close the album with this.
Kelis keeps changing her sound up and Food is no exception. Hopefully on her next album she keeps up the experimentation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Neon Trees Keep Getting Better

Neon Trees released their third album Pop Psychology last month and it comes as a new era for the band. Singer Tyler Glenn came out of the closet and has been writing more honestly than he ever has.
This record has no bad songs and is proof that Neon Trees are a force to be reckoned with. They continue along the path of their sound which features new wave, pop rock and indie rock.
The album's best songs are "Love in the 21st Century," second single "I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)" and third single "Voices in the Halls." The latter being a touching ballad that deals with a breakup.
"Text Me in the Morning" and "Teenager in Love" deal with love and youth and are both energetic and catchy. "Unavoidable" is a duet with drummer and vocalist Elaine Bradley in the vein of "Mad Love" off their last record. These songs are more fun and have cheeky lyrics. That is what Neon Trees are best at. Sassy lyrics that also pack emotion.
"I drew my name in lipstick on a mirror at your sister's house/ She told me I was strange, I told her, 'Thanks,' and kissed her on the mouth/ But you don’t go that way/ I thought you had a thing for fancy boys/ Looks can be deceiving," Glenn sings in the first verse.
"Sleeping with a Friend" and "Living in Another World." both deal with Glenn's homosexuality. "Sleeping with a Friend" which serves as the album's first single is a fun new wave song that Glenn says he wrote about having sex with a straight male friend. "Living in Another World" is a fun rock inspired song about living a double life.
"I guess I've always been this way/ It's been hard for me to say/ Close my eyes take me away," Glenn sings in the second verse.
The album closes on a high note with the autobiographical "First Things Fist." This song serves as the fourth single and is a song that has influences of synthpop and gospel. The song deals with Glenn's trip to LA with guitarist Christopher Allen.
The only song that isn't as good as the others is "Foolish Behavior." This song is very boring and doesn't stick out like the rest do. Even with this minor hiccup this album is one of Neon Trees best albums and shows that they are great musicians.

Breathe Carolina Keep It Tame On New Album

Breathe Carolina released their fourth record Savages last month and it's pretty tame compared to past albums. The songs on their last album Hell Is What You Make It had a passion to them that made that their best record. That album yielded their one hit single "Blackout."
After losing founding member and unclean vocalist Kyle Even lesser bands would have called it quits. However the band didn't replace Even and this album is almost devoid of their previous post-hardcore influences on their first three albums.
The album starts out with the four best songs on the record. "Bury Me" is a dance pop song that is packed with attitude and meant to be sung with a middle finger in the air.
"Fuck repercussions/ They don't mean shit to me," singer David Schmitt sings during the pre chorus.
"Bang it Out" features Karmin and is a fun dance number that is sure to be a hit. "Sellouts" which features Asking Alexandria singer Danny Warsnop is the lone post-hardcore inspired song. It deals with success and how some fans have been hating and calling them sellouts. The band applaud their fans who have stuck by them.
"You're fascinated with the old me/ and how you hate it when we don't scream/ You're stuck in the past and I'm not looking back/ I didn't do it just to make you happy/ I do it for the ones still clapping/ You're stuck on the fence and I'm over it," Schmitt sings during the first verse.
"Shots Fired" is a straight up pop song that sounds like it could be off their previous album. It deals with the betrayal the band felt when Even left.
After that the rest of the record is hit or miss. The acoustic laced "Please Don't Say" to the excellent title track to the chill "Chasing Hearts" which features Tyler Carter of Issues are all great songs. However when mixed in with songs like "Shadows," "Collide" or "I Don't Know What I'm Doing" that aren't that great it makes the listener not stray past the beginning of the album. While these songs aren't bad, they just aren't as memorable. If they came on shuffle on an iPod you might listen to them but you wouldn't really go out in search of them to listen to.
Savages has it's great moments and it shows that Breathe Carolina aren't going anywhere and they can survive adversity and still make good music.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Betty Who Reaches for Greatness on New EP

Betty Who is pop's new it girl. The singer's first EP The Movement provided Betty Who with her best song "Somebody Loves You." This is her best song and of the best songs of the past year. The singer achieved success and got mainstream attention. Her music has been used in commercials and television shows and she's gotten a ton of press. Her music is 80's worshiping dance pop that brings to mind Katy Perry and especially Robyn.
Betty Who released her second EP last month, Slow Dancing.  The EP opens with the magical first single "Heartbreak Dream. The breakup ballad is a touching and fun song that is sure too have people dancing. This song is the best song on the EP and one of Who's best songs.
"In a moment/ You were everything to me/ In this moment/ We're living in a heartbreak dream," Who sings gorgeously during the chorus.
The EP's next song is "Alone Again." This song is a midtempo song that in which Who tells her lover that he'll never be alone again. The song's guitar solo is a nice touch that makes the song stand out form her other music.
"Giving Me Away." is the next track and it picks up the pace a little. The song is an honest look at a love affair and is packed with emotion. Who is good at having a dance inspired song, but making you feel something. This EP showcases her vulnerability and that's what so endearing about her .
"Lovin' Start" is a soulful song that is a nice change of pace from the other songs on the EP. It's good to see that Who can experiment with different genres and styles. While this isn't the strongest song on the EP, it's still enjoyable.
"Silas" the final song on the album is a delicate song that is just beautiful. The acoustic song is a gorgeous ballad that tells a story of love. The song is about taking a chance on love and waiting for a lover..
"I'm hopelessly romantic/ Hopefully he can stand it," Who sings.
The song is one of the best songs Who has written thus far. Hopefully she'll have more acoustic moments on her future releases.
This EP is better than her first and goes to show that Who is a force to be watched in the pop world.

Punk Goes 90's Volume 2 is Hit or Miss

Punk Goes 90's Vol. 2 is the second Punk Goes 90's album and the fifteenth album in the Punk Goes... album series. While most of the covers lately have been metalcore and post-hardcore in lieu of punk bands.
While there are some good songs on this album, a lot of them aren't good. Let's start with the good. Get Scared's take on Lit's "My Own Worst Enemy" is one of the best songs on the record and is a great cover that is true to the original and Asking Alexandra's cover of Nine Inch Nail's "Closer" is very loyal to the original version. Both of these songs are great and their covers are almost as amazing. Another song that works well is the strangely good cover of Smash Mouth's "All Star" by Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!. A hardcore cover of this song shouldn't be as great as it is, but it is. Foo Fighters' amazing song "Everlong" is given new life by The Color Morale.
The album's best cover is Ice Nine Kills' cover of "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day. The band keep up the acoustic sound but incorporate a more upbeat pop-punk approach. Another album highlight is Hands Like Houses soulful cover of Natalie Imbruglia's cover of "Torn" by Ednaswap.
Now onto the bad songs. Stone Temple Pilots' "Interstate Love Song" is given a boring cover by Memphis May Fire. The Ghost Inside's cover of "Southtown" by P.O.D. is just bad and a very big miss. Yellowcard perform a boring cover of "Today" by The Smashing Pumpkins and Motionless in White fuck up "Du hast" by Rammstein. Mayday Parade do nothing special to Bush's "Comedown."
Howeever by far the worst cover is Falling in Reverse covering Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise." This cover is so bad. There are no words to express how bad. The breakdowns are the most pointless part. They could easily have gotten rid of that and just kept it hip hop.
This compilation may have been the nail in the coffin of the Punk Goes... compilations. Each album gets worse and has more cheesy songs.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lacuna Coil Lose Their Steam On New Album

Italian gothic metal band Lacuna Coil's seventh album Broken Crown Halo was released last month and it starts out strong, but eventually the album ends on a rough patch.
The first 6 songs are the strongest on the disc. From the opening two tracks first single "Nothing Stands in Our Way" and "Zombie" this gothic metal band start off on the right foot. These songs are heavy and catchy and fun. They feature something that isn't usually found on Lacuna Coil songs as of late, harsh vocals. Male vocalist Andrea Ferro screams while female vocalist Cristina Scabbia sings gorgeously.
The album's next two songs "Hostage to the Light" and "Victims" keep the rocking vibe going and are solid Lacuna Coil songs. They are aggressive and catchy and melodic. They go greatly into the next two songs, second and third singles "Die & Rise" and "I Forgive (But I Won't Forget Your Name)."
The latter is by far the best song on this record and lyrically deal with moving on from betrayal. "I forgive the ones who hurt me/ But I'll not forget your name," Scabbia sings with attitude during the chorus.
The next song "Cybersleep" is very boring and could be taken off the record. "Infection" steers the album back to being good. However next is "I Burn in You." This song is decent but it's forgettable. The only redeeming quality is the harsh vocals halfway through from Ferro. The next song is "In the End I Feel Alive." This song is a fun and aggressive song that is a good song, but not better than anything the band have done.
By the final song, the listener is bored by the album's second boring half. Even the good songs here aren't as good as the first 6. "One Cold Day" is a slow burning song that is a tribute to loved ones who have passed on. The song is touching but it's boring and cliché.
While this record is decent, it's not as good as the band's last and best record Dark Adrenaline. It would be much better for the band to have released an EP with the first 6 songs and not a whole record. It shows that Lacuna Coil can still write good songs though and that's a quality a band never wants to lose.

The Used Release Worst Album

Last month emo kings The Used released their worst album, Imaginary Enemy. While it's a good album, the rest of the previous records were great and this album is a let down.
The record shows little experimentation and growth. On the lead single "Cry" the band stick to their childish lyrics.
"I'm gonna make you bleed just a little bit/ I'm gonna make you pay just for making me cry," singer Bert McCracken sings on the chorus of this rocker. While it's a good song, it's not as good as the band's older music.
One thing that is a turn off is the band's political lyrics. On songs like "Revolution" and "El-Oh-Vee-Ee" the band successfully have a political undertone to their lyrics. Other songs like "Generation Throwaway" and the title track come off as too preachy. The last thing people want from the used is political music.
The most cheesy song on the record is also the most political, "Kenna Song." It's a cliché slow jam that is an attempted rallying cry for change.
When looked at compared to the band's best album Lies for the Liars this record looks worse than it is. But compared to Artwork or Vulnerable it isn't as bad. The Used would do better to stay away from political songs and just keep it the way they usually do.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Shakira Is Back On Amazing New Album

Latin superstar Shakira released her tenth album and the self-titled record is great. It redeems her after her last two albums 2009's She Wolf and 2010's Sale el Sol. While each record had a few great songs, the rest didn't hold up. On Shakira, Shakira makes up for lost time.
The album is a very experimental affair. Whether channeling No Doubt on the reggae and ska inspired first single "Can't Remember to Forget You" which features Rihanna and on "Cut Me Deep" which features Canadian reggae rock band Magic! or going country on "Medicine" with Blake Shelton, Shakira gets the job done.
Shakira also gets back to the world of rock music on this album. Her last few albums had Shakira hiding her rocker side but on songs like "Empire" she's back to rocking out. Her album is also very pop oriented. "The One Thing" is a poppy ode to her son. Also she recalls her Latin music roots on tracks like "You Don't Care About Me" and "Loca por Ti," one of the album's songs that is sung in Spanish.
Her songs reflects the happiness of her relationship with Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué. "23" recalls the beginning of their relationship as it was the age he was when they met. "Broken Record" is an adorable song that  addresses the feeling of being in love."Spotlight" is about finding love with Piqué in the public eye and how she knows that he loves her for who she is and not how much money she has. It is one of the album's best songs and showcases a heavy rock vibe.
The other best song on the album is "Dare (La La La)." This song is a dance-pop anthem with an electronic sound that mixes in Brazilian instrumentation. The song is the most mainstream and poppy song on the record. This song is surely meant to be a huge hit single. 
Shakira is one of Shakira's best albums and  one of the best pop albums of the year so far. If this is any indication of how the rest of 2014's pop albums will be, we're in for a treat.

Karmin Release Great Debut Album

Pop duo Karmin have always been original. Their mix of pop, dance, hip hop and acoustic music has always been good. On their debut EP Hello, the duo and real life couple, Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan, had a few great songs but the rest were lackluster and annoying.
On Pulses, the group's debut album there are many more great songs than there are bad ones.
"The album's best song is still first single "Acapella." The song is a breakup song that features Heidemann at her best as a rapper and singer. While the song was a flop commercially it's still the duo's best song. However there are other great songs on the record. From the touching breakup ballad "Neon Love" to the third single, the hip hop title track there are lots of good songs.
Pulses also has Karmin experimenting with new songs. "Drifter" is a song that is highly influenced by dance music. There is even a dubstepish breakdown. Also "Gasoline" is a reggae track that recalls a more hip hop version of No Doubt's most reggae moments.
However not all songs on the album work. Second single "I Want it All" is an annoying cut that mixes in disco and funk that comes off as silly and annoying. "Nights Like This" recalls a more tame version of Miley Cyrus and Kesha while "Tidal Wave" is just boring.
However tracks like "Hate to Love You" and "Try Me On" make up for it. The duo also write with a few high profile people. Martin Johnson, lead singer of Boys Like Girls, produced and co-wrote "Acapella" and "Neon Love" while crunkcore duo 3OH!3 co-wrote "Puppet."
Karmin have shown that they can grow to make great music if given enough time and brilliant people to work with.

Taking Back Sunday Mature On Sixth Album

Taking Back Sunday have redeemed themselves on their sixth album Happiness Is. Their fifth album, 2011's self-titled album had a few good moments but very few of the songs were memorable. On new album the band more than make up for that.
The best songs on the album are the first single "Flicker, Fade" and "Better Homes and Gardens." Both deal with breakups but they're mature and adult. The latter has some of the best lyrics that Taking Back Sunday have ever come up with. Both these songs are touching and emotional and leave the listener feeling what front man Adam Lazzara sings.
"You'll never be happy/ But it was all for nothing/ Yeah it was all a waste/ You held on tight and for dear life/ But it was all for nothing," Lazzara sings on the chorus.
Other highlights include "Stood a Chance," "Beat Up Car" and "Like You Do." These are all classic Taking Back Sunday and like the rest of the record, are great.
There truly are no bad songs and I have no negative comments to make about this album. It shows that just because a band gets older, doesn't mean they need to lose their edge. Taking Back Sunday only get better with time and this record shows it.

The Pretty Reckless Get Better On Second Album

Last month The Pretty Reckless released their second album of grungy hard rock. Going to Hell is a lot better than their debut which came off as singer Taylor Momsen doing bad Courtney Love impressions.
While there are some great songs on Going to Hell, the band's sophomore record is hardly a masterpiece it does have some great songs.  The album starts off on a strong point with the records first three singles "Follow Me Down," the title track and "Heaven Knows" are some of the best songs on this record. They're heavy, fun and sexy with badass rock and roll swagger. These songs are on the same level as the only two good songs off of their debut album Light Me Up, "Miss Nothing" and "Just Tonight."
The album's other two highlights are the very sexual hard rocker "Sweet Things" to the political and violent "Why'd You Bring a Shotgun to the Party?" These songs are phenomenal and make this album worth getting.
However, the rest of the songs don't really stick out. "Burn" and "House on a Hill" are very much stereotypical hard rock songs. The rest of the songs on the album could just not have happened The five great songs could have just made a great EP instead of a full album.
The Pretty Reckless have proved that they're improving. If they keep along the path they're on maybe they'll have an amazing fourth album.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lea Michele Gets Louder On Debut Album

Glee star Lea Michele released her debut album this month and it's a great record. Louder is a pure pop album, with a more theatrical delivery. The singer got her start on Broadway and that shows on this record.
The album's music mixes in pop, dance, rock and even moments of dubstep on it's 11 songs. The album deals lyrically with her relationship with her late Glee co-star Cory Monteith, who was dating Michele during the recording of this record up until his death last July.
The best song on the album is actually a tie between two songs. "On My Way" is a song that is just on the brink of dubstep and deals with going back to somebody who is bad for you. This song deals with a theme that appears constantly on this record. The other best song on the record is "Battlefield." This song is just Michele and the piano and it's a somber emotional song about the end of a relationship. Michele's voice is gorgeous and haunting on this song. It clearly deals with her relationship with Monteith.
Other highlights include the single "Cannonball" which deals with standing up after getting knocked down and "Burn With You" "Louder" is a dance number that would make Britney Spears jealous. It deals with overcoming obstacles and having fun.
"Empty Handed" is a soft-rock song that sounds like a good version of Christina Perri, who co-wrote the song. Another highlight is the closing song, the ballad "If You Say So." This song, written by Michele about Monteith's death. This song is by far the most emotional and real song on this record. It deals with the pain and heartbreak of losing a lover to drugs.
"It's been seven whole days/ Without your embrace/ I want to see your face/ I got some things to say/ Was just a week ago/ You said, "I love you girl."/ I said, "I love you more"/Then a breath, a pause, you said,/ If you say so," Michele sings during the chorus.
While all of the songs are good, some aren't as good as others. "You're Mine" is a strange Broadway show inspired track that could be done without. "Thousand Needles" is far too dramatic and comes off as annoying. "Cue the Rain" is also a tad overdramatic but not as bad as some of the other songs. "Don't Let Go" is a fun dance number, but it isn't done as well as "Louder" or "On My Way." It isn't bad, but it isn't as memorable as the others.
Lea Michele isn't likely to have huge success with this record. That being said the good out ways the bad and Louder is one of the best album's of the year so far.

Ashanti Releases Decent Album

Ashanti has never been the best R&B singer. Her first two albums were full of filler, her third record was great and then her fourth had a lot of filler again. BraveHeart was finally released after three years of being pushed back. While the record is decent, it's not worth the three year wait.
The original first single "The Woman You Love" featured Busta Rhymes and was a fantastic R&B song. However that single isn't featured here and it's better than any of the songs. The new first single "Never Should Have" is a soulful, emotional ride that had traditional R&B instrumentation. The second single "I Got It" features Rick Ross and is a hip hop influenced track that is a catchy way to introduce the record.
The best song on this record is "First Real Love" featuring reggae singer Beenie Man. This song is a great reggae inspired track that could have been huge in 2003. The song likely won't go anywhere but it's experimental and Ashanti's vocals sound great.
Other highlights include "Count" which was inspired by hip hop, "She Can't" which is classic Ashanti and "Don't Tell Me No."
"Early in the Morning" features Future and is a waste of four minutes. "Scars" is a decent song but it's far too long. "Love Games" which features Jeremih of "Birthday Sex" fame and is stupid.
Ashanti's vocals got a lot better with this album. For her earlier music she didn't sing that great but now her voice is better. You can really hear the soul in her vocals and she makes you feel what she's feeling.
Ashanti has had a great career with some great songs, but her albums were never that great. This record is more cohesive than her previous albums. That isn't hard though. This does show however that Ashanti has still got it.

Issues Release Weird Debut Album

Metalcore band Issues released their self-titled debut album last month and it's pretty odd. The album mixes in metalcore with R&B, hip hop, pop and nu-metal. While this is a tad strange it does work in most cases.
The album opens with two of the most soulful songs. "Sad Ghost" and "Mad at Myself." The latter features a chorus that could have been left off of an old Backstreet Boys record. The soulful clean vocals sung by Tyler Carter are the highlight of the album.
The album's best song is the second single "Never Lose Your Flame." The song is a mostly sung by Carter and features little harsh vocals from Michael Bohn. This is the best idea the band could have. Carter's vocals are so perfect they don't even need an unclean vocalist.
The lyrics are also what make this song so great.
"I hope you make peace with your pain/ And never lose your flames," the duo sing/scream during the chorus. The song is uplifting and touching.
However some of these song are stupid and unnecessary. "Life of a Nine" is a hip hop mistake with silly rapping. "Late" is a dance-laced number that could have been left off the record.
However there's some great songs on the record as well. First single "Stingray Affliction" is a catchy hip hop anthem that tackles haters. "Tears on the Runway, Pt. 2" which features Nylo, a dance singer whose female vocals are great on the song. Issues would do well to feature women on future songs. However, there is no part one so the song title makes no sense.
Issues is a decent debut album to introduce the band. This record for all it's faults is still experimental and does more forward thinking than most metalcore bands.

The Dollyrots Release Catchy New Album

Pop-punk band The Dollyrots rose to fame  in 2007 with their sophomore album Because I'm Awesome. The band, with the backing of Joan Jett's Blackheart Records got lots of exposure with their music used in television shows such as The Simple Life, Ugly Betty and Greek. This is largely due to front woman Kelly Ogden's kick ass personality. Part Gwen Stefani, part Joan Jett, Ogden is a mix of punk and pop.
The title track which served as their first single and is the band's best song serves as the template for the band's current sound. Catchy music mixed with tongue-in-cheek lyricism. This sound is present on their fifth record Barefoot and Pregnant.
The best song on the album and a close second as their best song is the catchy and adorable "Stupidly in Love." The song is a soundtrack of the love affair with Luis Cabezas with whom Ogden just had a child with last year.
While some of the songs on the album are silly and sound too similar, there are some great songs on this album. From the frenemy bashing "Worstie" to the punk-as-fuck title track to "Angel in Snow" some of the songs are great.
Other highlights include "Under the Same Sky," "Come and Get It" and "Puppy Dog Eyes." "First World Anarchist" is a silly ode to rebellion that is both great and ridiculous at the same. The lyrics get a little stupid. "No shirt, no shoes/ Give me service" just take the cake. Ogden also discusses wearing white after Labor Day and washing her face with body wash.
Some songs just don't hold up next to the others. "Get Weird" and "Homecoming" aren't the best but they aren't bad either.
The Dollyrots prove with this record that after a few albums of boring material, they can come back and bring the spunk back into their career.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

We Are the In Crowd Release Hit and Miss Sophomore Album

Pop-punk band We Are the in Crowd have always made great catchy music. Their dual vocal approach shows both sides of the story. The band released their sophomore record Weird Kids last month. The album doesn't hold a candle to their best release, 2010's Guaranteed to Disagree EP. Their debut full length Best Intentions followed the next year and while it wasn't as good as their EP almost every song on it was good and a few great numbers were mixed in.
Weird Kids starts off on a strong note with two of the albums best songs, "Long Live the Kids" and the albums second single and their best song ever "The Best Thing (That Never Happened)." Both these songs are energetic and well written.
Then the band has two songs that aren't that great. "Manners" and "Come Back Home" are forgettable and lack the same spark that the band usually shows. The band return to greatness with their first single "Attention."
"We're all just weird kids in the end," singers Tay Jardine and Jordan Eckes sing during the chorus.
The album continues on the track of greatness with the next two tracks "Dreaming Out Loud" and "Remember ( To Forget You)." 
The album gets emotional on the next two tracks. "Don't You Worry" is a song written for Jardine's teenage sister and "Windows in Heaven" is written in tribute to Jardine's late father.
The album closes on a high note with "Reflections." This fast-paced pop-punk closer recalls "Better Luck Next Time" off their last record.
While Weird Kids isn't the band's best release, it is pretty close to being as good as their EP and their debut album. Hopefully We Are the In Crowd keep making catchy and fun pop-punk for a long time to come.

Abandon All Ships Stay the Same on New Album

Abandon All Ships released their third album Malocchio last month and it's sound is identical to their previous records. That being said the band have improved upon their songs and this record is better than their sophomore record Infamous.
The band have been known to mix metalcore with trance, house, dubstep and other EDM styles in addition to hip hop. The band's vocalists Martin Broda who does cleans and Angelo Aita who does unclean vocals bring the songs to life with the help of the rest of the band.
The band mix in dance influences well on songs like first single "Reefer Madness," Alive" which features dance outfit Astrokrat and "Paradise" which closes the album in a song that is part aggression, part emotion.
The album's two best songs are the second single "Cowboys" and the title track. "Cowboys" starts off aggressive with Aita screaming and then mixes in a great clean chorus. The title track is an aggressive song that has melodic moments. Malocchio means evil eye in Italian.
"I look around and all I see are evil eyes surrounding me," Broda sings during the chorus.
These songs are what makes Abandon All Ships great. This album reminds us that the band write great songs.
While Malocchio isn't better than their debut album Geeving, it does come close. Here's to hoping that Abandon All Ships just get better.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Within Temptation Get Back to Basics on New Album

Within Temptation's new record Hydra takes them back to the sound that first got them attention. On the band's fifth album, 2011's The Unforgiving, the band had a more polished and poppy sound. The album was good, but far from as good as they once were.
On Hydra the band are more experimental, but in a good way. With guest apeparances from rapper Xzibit, Tarja Turunen of Nightwish fame, Howard Jones who used to sing in Killswitch Engage and David Pirner of Soul Asylum.
This album, like their previous other records mixes in symphonic metal with power metal and occasional gothic metal influences. Singer Shannon den Adel's voice never falters or gives in to the aggressive music.
While most of the collaborations add something to the song, some don't. "And We Run" featuring Xzibit starts out as a regular symphonic metal track before Xzibit rips it with some great rapping. "Dangerous" which is the second single off of the album features Jones is a great song and his vocals add to the song. The same is true with "Paradise (What About Us?" which is the first single and features Turunen. This is also one of album's best songs. "Whole World is Watching" features Pirner and this song could do without his vocals. It really doesn't add anything to the song.
Other highlights include "Let Us Burn" which opens the album in a catchy and aggressive way. "Edge of the World" which is a low key ballad that starts out with synths and is a great way to have fans catch their breath and relax after being assaulted by the aggressive first four songs.
The album has some guttural growls from guitarist Robert Westerholt. "Silver Moonlight" and "Tell Me Why" benefit from his growls and it gives fans of more metal sounds delight.
The album's bonus disc contains four covers and all of them are improvements on the original songs. The band's covers of "Summertime Sadness" by Lana Del Rey and "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons are the best coves on the disc. "Dirty Dancer" by Enrique Iglesias is covered as well and they improve on it. The band also cover "Let Her Go" by Passenger.
All in all the album is an improvement on their last record. If the band keep it up the way this album is going then they'll always keep their fans. Also the band should experiment more. Metal band are not known to try new things but Within Temptation have proven that they can do that.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Of Mice & Men Release Best Album

Of Mice & Men haven't always been the best band. Their music on their past albums was generic metalcore and had a few great songs but nothing too amazing. Then last month the band released their third record Restoring Force.
This album combines in a nu-metal sound. While nu-metal isn't usually good (Limb Bizkit, Korn) it can sometimes be great (Otep, older Kittie) and bands like Suicide Silence have had nu-metal influences on their recent records.
The band have finally found what makes them great. The band's vocals don't really vary that much from the traditional metalcore mold. Screamed verses by lead vocalist Austin Carlile who is well known for being in Attack Attack! for their first record and clean vocals on the choruses done by Aaron Pauley.
This is really done well on songs like "Feels Like Forever," "Glass Hearts" and "Bones Exposed. These songs are some of the best on the disc. These songs contrast with other songs such as "Would You Still Be There," "Space Enough to Grow," "Identity Disorder," and "Another You" which feature predominantly clean vocals by Pauley. On "Break Free" Carlile gets to shine as most of the song is unclean vocals. This song is one of the heaviest song on the album and has a chorus that is mostly unclean vocals with some cleans by Pauley peppered in. "You Make Me Sick" is another example of this. This song is the heaviest on the record and it's angry and will be sure to induce mosh pits for many shows to come.
The album's two best songs are the album opener "Public Service Announcement" and first single "You're Not Alone." "Public Service Announcement" is an angry song that tells off internet haters and anybody who doubts the band or talks negatively about them. This song is so honest and that's why it's an album highlight. "You're Not Alone" has a very nu-metal melody and is a catchy, fun, heavy song that just gets stuck in your head for days.
Restoring Force is by far Of Mice & Men's best record and it sets the bar pretty high for them in the future. Hopefully things can only go up from here.

Periphery Experiment On New EP

Progressive metal band Periphery released their second EP Clear last month. The EP contains an intro written by the entire band and then six other tracks written by each member of the band.
"Overture" is the intro track and is an instrumental cut that sets the mood of the EP and starts out the melodic theme for the other songs.
"The Summer Jam" written  by guitarist Jake Bowen is classic Periphery. Catchy clean vocals and djent guitar chords. Singer and guitarist Spencer Sotelo shows his vocal range and goes seamlessly going between harsh vocals as he does so well on most Periphery songs.
"Feed the Ground" is written by drummer Matt Halpern. The song sounds like a lot of Periphery songs and while it isn't a bad song it doesn't do anything different or better than other songs by the band. It's catchy enough and Sotelo's clean vocals are on point as are his unclean vocals.
"Zero" was written by guitarist Misha Mansoor is an instrumental cut that holds it's own with the rest of the band. The instruments are insane and while I'm not really a fan of instrumental music, this song is still great.
"The Parade of Ashes" is written by vocalist Spencer Sotelo. This song is a poppy yet heavy song that is the best song on the EP as well as one of the band's best songs in general. It's catchy and aggressive and is sure to be a live favorite for years to come.
"Extraneous" is written by bassist Adam "Nolly" Getgood and it's an instrumental cut that isn't as good as "Zero" but it's still heavy and it slays.
"Pale Aura" is written by guitarist Mark Holcomb. The song is a good way to close the album. It starts off with Sotelo doing unclean vocals. Then in the chorus Sotelo employs epic clean vocals. This song is a great way to close off the EP.
While this EP is hit and miss, it does show that Periphery are a versatile band who can sing, write and produce a wide array of music. It also should get fans excited about a full album later on this year.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

After the Burial Evolve On New Record

After the Burial's first two records were decent albums and cemented their blend of deathcore, melodic death metal, progressive metal and metalcore into one aggressive and catchy blend. Their first two records were nearly devoid of clean vocals except Forging a Future Self, their debut, had some sprinkled in. Then in 2010 the band released their opus In Dreams. This album was a little more melodic and had  prominent clean vocals on three songs. While fans weren't too fond of this, this album is what got me into the band.
Their fourth record Wolves Within, features no clean vocals, but it does feature evolution. The band sort of melded all three album's sounds into one on this record. Every song is good but the ones that truly shine go down with some of After the Burials best songs. Single's "Of Fearful Men" and "A Wolf Amongst Ravens" are catchy but also have some melodic moments thrown into their aggressive sound. "Pennyweight" is a fun song that begins with singer Anthony Notarmaso screaming "fuck yeah" in his signature high pitched shrieks. This song takes the band back to their earlier sound.
"Disconnect," "Neo Seoul" and "A Wolf Amongst Ravens" have the band's signature melodic intros before descending into the heavy melodies the band are known for. These songs could all have fit in well on In Dreams.
Singer Anthony Notarmaso's vocals sometimes are a bit much but usually they go well with the rests of the band. Especially the guitarists are skilled and the rifts are catchy and always stuck in your head.
After the Burial have always released good albums and with Wolves Within they prove that they aren't going anywhere for a long time to come.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Beyoncé Releases Her Best Album

Last month Beyoncé released her fifth album with 20 minutes notice. This surprise, self-titled record is her best. While I find her to be overrated Beyoncé does make some good music and this album is her best.
Dubbed a "visual album" each song has it's own music video and there are three bonus videos. The album explores insecurity, beauty, motherhood, relationships, female empowerment and sexuality. The music incorporates R&B, trap, hip hop, electro, soul and indie influences and shows Beyoncé experimenting with new sounds. Gone is the cookie cutter R&B singer of her first few albums and here we have a woman who is not afraid to try new sounds.
Beyoncé shows strength on songs like "Partition,"  "Blow" and "Rocket." These songs are sexual and contain a certain sexuality. First single "Drunk in Love" featuring husband Jay-Z also embody sexuality and lust.
While Beyoncé shows her strength she also shows some of her most vulnerable points on songs like "Pretty Hurts," "Blue" which features her daughter Blue Ivy, "Jealous," "Mine," and "Heaven." These songs are where Beyoncé really shines. "Pretty Hurts" deals with pageant girls and is a female empowerment anthem that has small spots of insecurity in it's lyrics.
"Just another stage/ Pageant the pain away/ This time I'm gonna take the crown/ Without falling down, down," Beyoncé sings during the first verse.
"Blue" is a song dedicated to her daughter and shows how much she loves her. "Jealous" deals with jealousy and shows Beyoncé channeling Lana Del Rey. "Mine" features Drake and is a song that deals with post partum depression. "Heaven" is a gorgeous ballad that discusses the death of a loved one. This song is perhaps the most vulnerable Beyoncé has ever been.
The album's two best songs are "Flawless" and "XO." "Flawless" is a trap influenced song that deals with female empowerment. The song features writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reciting an excerpt of her speech "We should all be feminists..."  The song exudes confidence is shows Beyoncé at her best.
"Bow down bitches," Beyoncé sings repeatedly during the first verse.
Single "XO" is a gorgeous electronic pop ballad that features influences of indie pop. It's a gorgeous love song and shows Beyoncé being vulnerable and talking about her relationship with Jay-Z.
Another album highlight is "Grown Woman." This is one of the bonus videos and was featured in her Pepsi commercials. This song is a fast paced song that should be on the actual album and could very well be a single.
All in all Beyoncé changed the game with this record. Her surprise release will definitely shift the way the music industry works and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top 10 Albums of 2013

10. The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1-Five Finger Death Punch
The metal titan's fourth album is their best by far. With guest appearances by Maria Brink of In This Moment, Rob Halford from Judas Priest, Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed, Max Cavalera from Soulfly and Tech N9ne, the band experimented and released some of their most aggressive music to date. The album's sequel which came out later in the year is also phenomenal. The album's best song is "Anywhere but Here" the duet version with Maria Brink.
Key Tracks: "Lift Me Up" freaturing Rob Halford, "Watch You Bleed," "You," "Wrong Side of Heaven," Burn MF," I.M. Sin," "Anywhere but Here," duet with Maria Brink, "Dot Your Eyes," and "Mama Said Knock You Out" featuring Tech N9ne.
9. The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2- Justin Timberlake
The pop star shocked us with his come back this year with not one, but two amazing albums. The second part of his opus was better though, however check out part 1 as well. This album had a more urban sound than part 1's neo soul vibes. The songs dealt with breakups or love and sex. Timberlake showed us that he can still be a viable musical force after all these years. The best song is the opening track "Gimmie What I Don't Know (I Want)."
Key Tracks: "Gimmie What I Don't Know (I Want)," "TKO," "Murder" featuring Jay-Z, "Drink You Away," "Amnesia," "Only When I Walk Away," "Not a Bad Thing" the bonus track "Pair of Wings.
8. Side Effects of You-Fantasia
Fantasia really outdid herself on her fourth record. The soul singer incorporated rock elements into her music and discovered explicit language. The singer also wrote a lot of the songs where she didn't do that so much in the past. The album's best songs are "Without Me" featuring Missy Elliott and Kelly Rowland and the title track.
Key Tracks: "Supernatural Love" featuring Big K.R.I.T., "Without Me" featuring Missy Elliott and Kelly Rowland, "Side Effects of You," Get it Right," "So Much to Prove," "Change Your Mind," "Lighthouse," "Lose to Win," "End of Me," "In Deep" and the bonus track "To the Heavens."
7. Gravel & Wine-Gin Wigmore
Gin Wigmore's sophomore album was released in 2011 but it was only released in the United States in 2013. Wigmore's music mixes pop, rock, blues and folk to make a soulful, sassy blend of music. The best song is the second American single "Black Sheep."
Key Tracks: "Black Sheep," "Man Like That," "Poison," "Kill of the Night," " Devil in Me," "If Only," "Dirty Love," "Happy Ever After," "Saturday Smile," "Sweet Hell" featuring Butch Walker and the bonus tracks "Don't Stop" and "Kick This Love."
6. Save Rock and Roll-Fall Out Boy
Pop punk kings Fall Out Boy returned this year with an album that is more pop than rock. The album was a loud return for the band who hadn't released an album since 2008. The album mixes elements of dance, hip hop and punk into the tunes. The best songs are "The Phoenix" and "Just One Yesterday" featuring Foxes.
Key Tracks: "The Phoenix," My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)," "Alone Together," "Where Did the Party Go," "Just One Yesterday" featuring Foxes, "Miss Missing You," "Death Valley," "Rat a Tat" featuring Courtney Love, and "Save Rock and Roll" featuring Elton John.
5. True Romance-Charli XCX
The singer behind Icona Pop's epic single "I Love It" released her own debut album this year and it's very unique. The album mixes in synthpop with indie, new wave, R&B and house music. The lyrics are all about different sides of love. The best songs are "You (Ha Ha Ha)," "Stay Away" and "Black Roses."
Key Tracks: All of them.
4. Mosquito-Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The art rock band went indie rock on their fourth album which isn't as phenomenal as their debut but is better than their third album and that improvement is aplenty on this record. The album's best songs are "Sacrilege," "Mosquito" and 'Under the Earth," "Despair" and Wedding Song."
Key Tracks: "Sacrilege," Mosquito," "Under the Earth," "These Paths," Area 52," "Buried Alive" featuring Dr. Octagon, "Despair" and "Wedding Song."
3. Trouble-Natalia Kills
Pop singer Natalia Kills doesn't get the credit she's due. The singer who's sophomore album is like Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey somehow had a baby who made pop music with guitars, it'd be Natalia Kills. On this album, Kills tackles personal issues like her family life, childhood and relationships gone wrong. The album's best tracks are "Television," "Devils Don't Fly" and "Marlboro Lights."
Key Tracks: "Television," "Problem," "Boys Don't Cry," "Daddy's Girl," "Saturday Night," "Devils Don't Fly," "Controversy," "Rabbit Hole," and "Marlboro Lights."
2. Artpop-Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga needs no introduction. While this album isn't her best, it also isn't her worst either. It shows a lot of experimentation. The album mixes in EDM, rock, R&B and hip hop elements into her music. The album's best song is "Dope."
Key Tracks: "Aura," Venus," "Jewels n Drugs" featuring T.I., Too Short and Twista, "MANiCURE," "Do What You Want" featuring R. Kelly, "Swine" "Mary Jane Holland," "Dope," Gypsy," "Applause."
1. Paramore-Paramore
The band prove on this album that they can do fine without what's their names? The lyrics talk about looking forward and just wanting to have fun and dealing with inner demons, as well as usual love songs. The album's best songs are "Fast in My Car," "Grow Up," "Part II," "Ain't It Fun," and "Still Into You."
Key Tracks: "Fast in My Car, "Now," "Grow Up," "Interlude: Moving On," "Ain't it Fun," "Part II," "Still Into You," "Anklebiters," "Interlude: Holiday," "Proof," "Hate to See Your Heart Break," "Interlude: I'm Not Angry Anymore," and "Be Alone."