Saturday, May 30, 2009
NP: Electric Wizard - Dopethrone >_> <_<
Sunday, May 24, 2009
This week's very belated review is the eighth full-length from Green Day, entitled 21st Century Breakdown (which is of no relation to the 21st Century Schizoid Man, sadly). According to them, this follows the same style as the previous album, in that it is a “rock opera.” As far as I can tell, it's just a fancy way to say “all of our songs are about the same story.” Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, if done well. However, since these guys have kept the anti-government / anarchy / typical punk ethos, the story of the album revolves around “deal(ing) with the mess our 43rd president left behind.” Just peachy, I know.
I'll get this out of the way first: I don't like punk. At all. Very little in the genre particularly appeals to me in any way. To make this review even worse for me, this album embodies everything that I don't like about punk. Generic power chord riffing, generic chord progression, punk themed lyrics, horrible vocals (singing AND gang shouts), etc., etc., the list goes on and on. What I do like about punk, however, is not present. Emotion, intensity, and speed are all missing, as this is primarily a pop album. No matter what they say, these guys have been making pop punk for years, much to the chagrin of the true punk fans, I'm sure. The only thing that really sets their albums apart from any others in the genre is their misplaced acoustic sections, which have skyrocketed to popularity for no real reason, as far as I can tell (see Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, Wake Me Up When September Ends, and Good Riddance).
Before I make fun of the guitar / bass parts, I do realize that I'll be beating a dead horse on this by saying that it's simple. I do realize that it's not meant to be complex. I do realize that I don't like this at all. Okay, on to the whining. The guitar tone is horrible. I've never liked the sound that they have on any of their records. It's too...punky? Strange, I know, but this is my review, so I'll rate this however I please. Also, I don't think these guys can play anything but power chords. There were only a handful of times that I picked out something that wasn't a power chord, and even then, they were played in the same style as power chords. The bass didn't play a strong presence in the album at all, not because it wasn't mixed high enough, but because it just does the exact same thing as the guitar.
Blah blah, punk drums suck, blah blah blah. Blah blah generic, simple, blah blah.
As with the Miley Cyrus review earlier, the vocals are Green Day's trademark and strongest point. I think anybody that knows anything about music could point out one of their songs just from Armstrong's vocals. They have that certain very nasally quality that makes him stand out from any other vocalist I've ever heard. However, that doesn't necessarily make the vocal lines any good. There were a few sections that it sounded like they just recycled melodies from other songs. Again, that might just be the punk, but near the end of the song “East Jesus Nowhere,” it sounds EXACTLY like something off of American Idiot, which I can't place because I haven't heard that album in years. Nothing has changed in particular from previous offerings, so if you liked the vocals before, you'll probably still like them here.
This album just seems empty. An emotionless void of power chords and random piano sections. There weren't any points in the cd that made me feel anything at all. No hatred towards the government, no happiness that we're in a better place now, nothing at all. The performances are tight and the production is spot-on, but it feels like something is missing, especially compared to the last album (which I don't particularly like anyway).
5/10 for nothing being obviously WRONG with the album, but still not doing anything right either (I thought MCR did it better anyway with The Black Parade)
NP: Wormed - Planisphaerium
It's been a few weeks since the last review, and for that I apologize. Oh wait, no I don't. There is no schedule, so as far as the reader knows this review is right on time. Anyhow, this week's review, Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown, comes from Bilboard's top selling chart. Just the fact that it's a Green Day album put me on edge because I've never been much of a fan. Correction: I've never been ANY of a Green Day fan. I've always found Green Day repetitive, boring, whiny and wholly uncreative. This album was no different. Green Day got the suck going REAL fast with the obligatory “radio search” intro track, which soon faded into Billie Joe Armstrong's strained singing and forced vibrato. It was at this moment that I got slapped in the face with just how long this album was going to be: 18 tracks of what Green Day has prided itself with from the beginning, which is over-played, identical sounding garbage, just the way Ma used to make.
The music itself was entirely unimpressive. As with the majority of main-stream music these days, it is written almost entirely in 4/4. The drums serve to pound out time in traditional rock or punk pattern. Billie Joe Suckstrong plays about the same as he has for years. The vocals on the album are simply terrible. Armstrong has one of the whiniest, nasally, forced, and yet still slightly gravelly voices I've ever heard. Each of those factors alone is bad enough, but having them together in one human makes me want to vomit. The whole album sounds almost exactly like their last album, and the one before that, and the one before that ad infinitum. These were numerous times throughout when I would listen closely and could hear someone faintly singing about a lonely road or about waking up in early October. Most of the songs have caught a terminal case of Linkin Park (while Linkin Park is not the only band to do this, they are by far the worst perpetrators) and have a somewhat catchy chorus which they just put on repeat. I'm pretty sure Jess will bring up something like this as well, but it is worth mentioning.
After getting further into the album, I found that there is actually more than one “Radio Search” track. Apparently this technique is VERY innovative even though every rock/pop band since the Beatles has done at least one of them. Deductively, this now means Green Day occupies the number 1 slot in terms of innovation. Speaking of innovation, Green Day has taken it a step further by pushing the cause of passing off “La la”s, “Na na”s, “Hey hey”s and “Doot doo”s as legit lyrics be pervasively using those and more throughout the entire album. “Nonsense” lyrics are the bane of good music. I can't think of any song with any musical merit that contains “nonsense” lyrics.
All things considered, this album was about what I expected: exactly the same as the rest of their albums. It seemed somewhat lacking, though, even by Green Day's standard. I didn't get any of their anti-everything vibe that is usually lurking in all of their songs. The only thing that surprised me at all was the alternate instrument experimentation. There were several tracks that either began with a string quartet or a piano or an accordion or some such thing. While not particularly new or interesting, for Green Day this is quite the leap. Just for the record, am I alone in the thought that GD got the style, chord progression and perhaps the entirety of “Horseshoes and Handgrenades” from The Hives? I can't be sure but I had reoccurring thoughts of Veni Vedi Vicious the entire time I was listening to that song.
N.P.: Giant Squid - The Ichthyologist
~Join with us (hopefully) next week for our hopefully more fun review from Last.fm!
Monday, May 4, 2009
For week number two, we get to enjoy a bit of Russian culture, reviewing a band called Narkotiki. Their new album, Планета Любовь, meaning Planet Of Love, was just released, which sent them to the top of the hyped artist list on Last.fm. This album, a disco / rap / pop / electronica hybrid, was quite the surprise to me. From their wiki on their Last.fm page, it says “filled with extreme levels of joy and humor.” Reading that alone made me very apprehensive about this listen, as I don't typically enjoy either joy or humor in my music, and I dislike disco and rap. However, I really did enjoy this, despite all odds.
The vocals were what I was most afraid of before I listened to it, because I am an avid hater of rap. In reality, it's not so much rapping at is just quickly talking (blah blah all rap is that way blah blah). For the most part, there really isn't very much punctuation on very many of the words like most rap, and these guys aren't obviously aren't black either, so it doesn't even sound very rap-like. Even on the few tracks that are close to the typical rap sound feel totally different because of the instrumentation below the vocals. But the vocals aren't just rap, either. On some of the songs, there are parts that resemble a shoegaze style of singing, which worked well with the disco elements. I wish I could mention something about the lyrics, but I don't speak Russian. At all. I can't even count in Russian, or even say hello. The track titles, however are standard pop rock fare, featuring tracks like “Give It To Me,” “Falls In Love,” and “Free.” On the other hand, there are songs like “I Drink The Blood,” “Joseph Kobzon,” and “Punk (Less)” that make me want to know what the actual song is about. Sadly, I will probably never know.
For this album, I'm not going to make fun of how it's not technical or how it's the most generic thing ever, unlike last week's review. The genres of both disco and rap, the two main ingredients of Narkotiki, are not particularly known for doing anything out of the ordinary either, for that matter. However, Narkotiki actually does experiment between songs, going from a 80s style video game soundtrack to a punk riff to a rap beat, and those are only a few examples of the different styles going on throughout this album. The instruments compliment the vocals well, and never feel out of place.
The biggest problem this album has is that the songs tend to run together. Since it stays upbeat the whole time, and the vocals seem like the same lines over and over, nothing really stuck out for me. The actual song writing itself was good, but it would've been nice for it be changed up a little between tracks.
NP: mewithoutYou - It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright
I've got AP tests this week, so I'm going to be very brief so I can get back to *ahem* studying (Dead Space). The subject of this week's review is the last.fm Most Hyped album, something by a Russian band called Narkotiki(?). Right from the start, I knew that this weeks review would not be as mind-numbingly awful as last week. Just the fact that the band is Russian provided an interesting listening experience. Having said that, however, the entire album was overly upbeat and peppy, or at least the music was. I have absolutely no idea what they were saying but I doubt that they were singing about death, destruction or any of a number of depressing topics, especially considering that the one track title I could read was “La la la”.
I would classify Narkotiki as a Techno + Disco + Rap fusion. The vocals, the occasional sampling and even bits of the pounding beat (yo) form the rap portion of the fusion genre. The majority of the instumentation (Synthesizers) is most obviously techno based. The disco aspect comes from much of the chord progression and beat structure. Their genre is by far the most interesting part of the entire album and is, unfortunately, as far as their innovation goes. Underneath the intrigue of the fusion genre, the music is written in 4/4 throughout with the signature techno pounding out quarter notes underneath and absolutely nothing remarkable happening in the drum machine. The lyrics were, as far as I could tell, not overly repetitive, but again it's kind of difficult to judge this aspect of the music. The vocals were, however, VERY monotonous, but this has come to be expected from rap.
Another plus to this album is that the songs were original and I could actually tell when one song ended and the next began due to the slight variations in style, musical theme and choice in voices for the synthesizers. The only thing that stayed entirely constant throughout was the vocals and the pounding beats(not so fresh beats, yo). This was a nice break from the usual generic, repetitive pop that our ears are constantly assaulted with. All in all, the genre is innovative and somewhat interesting, but overall the album is unremarkable, although thankfully not excessively repetitive
SCORE: 4.3333(and on and on)/10
N.P.: Acid Bath – When The Kite String Pops
Saturday, April 25, 2009
First off, I think Bryan stole all of my jokes, but he denies it. I KNOW THE TRUTH
For the first review, we got quite the pick: the soundtrack from the new Hannah Montana movie. Now, going into this, I knew EXACTLY what to expect. I was planning for an endless barrage of sappy, needlessly happy, pop songs that cater to children, and never go outside of the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure. What I got out of this cd is exactly that, and I suppose I shouldn't have expected anything more.
I'll start this review with an analysis of the non-important parts of this album: the drums, guitar, and the bass. The drumming is standard 4/4 time signature with not a single interesting drum beat throughout the entire cd. The guitar on the Hannah Montana songs was primarily just power chords strummed in eighth notes for a measure, then changing to the next chord. The chord structures are painfully generic, following the standard I-IV-V progression. Obviously in a genre like this, the bass is unimportant, and just follows the guitar in everything that it does. Instruments are just not the focus in this album, and it's painfully obvious that there wasn't a lot of work put into them.
In this vocal-centric, catch-focused, hook-centered musical world we live in, the singer needs to be able to sing and / or have a unique enough voice to stand out. Miley definitely has the latter, and she has enough talent in the former that the auto tuner didn't have a lot of work to do. Of course, the performance she puts on is par for the course. Nothing is done spectacularly well, but nothing is really bad either. The lyrics, on the other hand, are either of the cheesy uplifting variety (songs such as “The Climb” and “You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home”) or of the Sesame Street variety (“Hoedown Throwdown”). Okay, so there's only one Sesame Street song, but that's one too many in my book. These lyrics I'm sure are supposed to make me feel good and uplifted, but they just make me realize that we live in such a depressing world that we need to force ourselves to be happy just to live in it. NOTE: I'M NOT EMO. Again, it's obviously for kids, but I know when I was a kid I didn't get off on mind-numbingly perky things, and kids today should have more than just this garbage. I'm not even going to go into the lyrics for the Rascal Flatts song about the country songs played backwards. I don't think anybody has laughed at that joke for ten years at the very least. However, I can't not mention the horrible, horrible vocalist from Rascal Flatts. If you took every stereotypical country voice and put them together into one person, it would be this guy, and that is definitely not a good thing. Every time he started singing, I imagined diarrhea going into my ears, never coming out, and getting all moldy and eventually rotting my brain down into a huge pile of stinky moldy poop. Steve Rushton suffers from the same problem. Take every pop punk stereotype you can think of, and that's him. Even in the reggae-ish song he sounds like every pop punk vocalist ever. The other two guest acts, Billy Ray Cyrus and Taylor Swift, were mostly uneventful. They are both good vocalists, and their songs follow the same formula listed above for Miley's songs: nothing good, nothing bad.
For the record, I know I'm not in the targeted demographic of the music (see 12 year old screaming girls) but I can tell you for a fact that I did not enjoy listening to this cd, and I hope that kids today don't either. Most everything wrong with the music industry today is embodied in this release. First off, music and TV should never be combined, EVER. I'm nitpicking, but in the mainstream, there has been very little variation of style since around the turn of the century, and this album does absolutely nothing to change that. Is it really so much to ask that even pop music does something different once in a while? The number one problem I have with this album is the Disney hype machine. They created Mile...err...HANNAH MONTANA only for pandering to little girls and stealing their parent's money. As soon as she does something risque or goes out on her own, she will magically lose popularity and disappear, much like Lindsay Lohan back in the day. Soon after, yet another youngster will take the throne and be the king (wait....queen) of the little girls.
SCORE: 3/10 and it's only that high because Miley's vocals are not horribly generic.
NP: Cynic – Traced In Air
The only thing I can say is I hope that week one of this blog isn't typical. This week's review topic is the soundtrack from the Hannah Montana Movie, but don't let the title confuse you: there are multiple other acts on the album including Rascal Flats, Steve Rushton (I'd never even heard of him before this album), Taylor Swift, Billy Ray Cyrus, and it even guest stars Miley Cyrus or some such garbage (I certainly did get the best of both worlds). I didn't even realize that there was more than just Hannah Montana's act on the album until halfway through the fourth song when I noticed that suddenly Hannah had gotten a lot more masculine. Somehow this album gained the number one spot on the Billboard's top 200 selling albums. Apparently all of the ten year old girls from around the country spent their allowance on this album. Way to go Hannah, you've won over your demographic: pre-teen girls.
Basically the entire album was the same, old, overused pop structure (intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, followed by a more powerful chorus) with a different singer or singers warbling along on top. The music itself was bland: the standard issue 4/4 time signature with a drummer pounding out the basic rhythm and a bass a guitar strumming along. Exactly what is expected from a top 200 album these days. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Hannah's style is her slightly distinctive voice and perhaps her attempt at innovation by way of country influences (Not a good thing by any stretch of the imagination). Fortunately Hannah Montana is somewhat talented vocally so the superfluous Auto-tune that is blatantly obvious in most pop albums is absent.
Despite the fact that I had never heard of Steve Rushton before, I got down to hating him right away. His almost Nickleback (shudder) style of singing sent spasms of pain down my spine, and of course he couldn't just leave it at that. The music itself was some sort reggae (More like regGAY) and punk fusion. The offbeat twanging of distorted guitars added absolutely nothing to this abomination of an song. Even by pop standards, this song is by far the worst on the album.
If you've ever listened to this album, there are two Rascal Flats songs that served as little more than a brief interlude or transition between Hannah and Miley. Rascal Flats... oh sorry, FlaTTs (that's about as far as their innovation goes) has been number one in my book of garbage since I first heard their single “Life is a Highway” or whatever that driving song was called. I was hoping that their two songs on the album would at least live up to the standards(?!?) set by “Life is a Highway” but alas, no cigar. The first Pascal very-Flat song on the album is based on a joke about country singers that hasn't been funny since before I first heard it when I was seven. It's great that these guys can laugh at themselves and all, but if them laughing at themselves sounds anything like Raskol Fault's singer, I weep for the future.Again, I hope against all hopes that this week is not typical. I beg the music gods to allow us to review something with a little promise that perhaps allows us to make mention of creative music... and lyrics. All in all, this album is a generic, mind-numbing, lack-luster, repetitive pile of festering garbage that reminds me of every other album of this genre I've ever heard. I'm pretty sure I've heard at least all of these songs somewhere... oh I remember, it's been playing non-stop on the radio since before I stopped listening to it five years ago. Also, I just want to warn anyone who plans on thinking any kind of non-Hannah thoughts soon. After listening to this album, the sludge caked on my brain was so thick, I could hardly string together an intelligent sentence for this review, which probably explains a lot.
SCORE: 2.5/10 as with Jess, simply because Miley has some vocal talent.
NP: Gorod – Leading Vision
Stay tuned for next week's review of Last.fm's most hyped tracks!
Monday, April 20, 2009
The reviews are most likely going to be harsh and cynical, and we will enjoy every second of the hatred. If you read this, stay tuned for our first review coming soon!