Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Knife Man - Andrew Jackson Jihad (Review)

There are certain albums that perfectly define certain genres. Against Me!'s "Reinventing Axl Rose", Frank Turner's "Love Ire & Song", and Andrew Jackson Jihad's "People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World" are some of them that define folk-punk. With an album like that, it is hard to keep listeners happy with the releases to come after that. Andrew Jackson Jihad is one of the few who manages to blow away expectations even after their previous albums (which were all masterpieces).

The first song is "The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving". It is a short little number. The first line of the song (and of the album) is "The Michael Jordan of drunk driving lost his final game tonight". I personally think opening up an album with a line like that is pretty brave. It is the type of lyric you don't see to often unless from Andrew Jackson Jihad.

The album gets kicked into high gear with "Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi". This song adds a drum set and electric guitars that weren't in "The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving". It is a much faster and heavier song than the opener, which throughout the album, there are plenty of heavier / faster songs than Andrew Jackson Jihad fans are used too. Regardless of "what they were / what they are" arguements, these fast tunes are great.

"American Tune" is one of the most witty, yet shockingly honest, song on the album. It is about the many advantages a white, straight, male has in america. The first verse explains the advantages of being white, and the second verse explains the advantages of being a straight male. All the way through the song, they are followed by a kazoo that pretty much takes over the song.

The next song, "Back Pack", is one of the scariest, most brutal, song I have ever heard. It explains a very dark death in very fine detail. And it deeply explains how lifeless the victim felt, explaining "your body felt just like a backpack / t-shirt". Which is actually a horrifying line. The song is almost so graphic, it is hard to listen to at time, but melody and guitar riff is so haunting, it will surely keep you listening. The stuff it says in this song are usually left off of most songs by anyone else because they don't have the balls that Andrew Jackson Jihad has. But Andrew Jackson Jihad prooves they can do whatever the hell they want to do in this song.

"Distance" returns to some more of the fast more traditional punk musicianship as "Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi". This, in my opinion, is a better developed song though. They seem more confident with the electric guitars and such in this song. This song documents a break up in length. It has a pretty funny line it that sings "I hate whiney fuckin' songs like this / but I can't afford a therapist / sorry guys, here's a solo" which then continues into a guitar solo.

"Fucc The Devil" goes back to the slower tunes, which confirms the fact that this album almost has a steady pattern of "slow song, fast song, slow song, fast song.....". This song has some cool back up vocals (i think...?) with a cool little affect on them. Nice littly song, a tad too short though.

"Hate, Rain on Me" is another fast tune (shocker). This song has constant lead electric guitar throughout almost the enitire song, which is not usual for Andrew Jackson Jihad songs. This song sounds more "punk rocky" than the usual Andrew Jackson Jihad song. You see more of these "punk rocky" songs a bit later in the album.

"If You Have Love in Your Heart" is another very short song. This is a very nice song though that fits a lot into the minute and a half it has. I personally see this song as an intermission, almost like this is where the second half of the album begins (or where the first half ends).

"No One" is a song VERY unlike the standard Andrew Jackson Jihad song. It has a very bluesy sound to it that you would never expect from a band like them. It is a sad song. It is a song about being no one in the world, and having no one to be a no one with. There is a nice little guitar solo about half way through the song too. This song seems to drag a little bit too long towards the end, but it is cool to hear these guys expirement a little bit.

"Sad Songs (Intermission)" seems like it came straight from a cowboy movie. It sounds real old school. The only thing that sounds like Andrew Jackson Jihad is the voice, thats all. The song is very refreshing. You don't usually hear this amount of expirementing in a punk rock record. The piano is the base of this song, and it works absolutly perfectly.

"Zombie By The Cranberries By Andrew Jackson Jihad" sounds like it came straight from "People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World". It is the same instrumentation as that album. It is stripped down to the basic acoustic instrumentation. It is a very good song with borrowed lines from the song "When The Saints Go Marching In".

"People II 2: Still Peoplin'" is probably the best thing, lyrically, they have ever written. This is one of the most quotable songs I have ever heard. There is too many awesome lines to quote right here in this review, but I'll share what I think is one of the greatest lyrics of all time. "You can hope it gets better, you can follow your dreams. But hope is for presidents, and dreams are for people who are sleeping". I think that is one of the greatest lines ever. There is much more in the song also that are worth listening for. This song is a sequel of a sequel, but not a sequel to the original, confusing concept, eh?

Here is another one of those punk songs I was talking about earlier. It is called "Sorry Bro". This is most likely the "punkest" song they have ever recorded (I hate to use the term "punkest", but I mean traditional punk rock by that). It is just barely short of two minutes and just has electric guitar, bass, and fast drum.

The next song, "Skate Park", is similar in terms of the fast drums and electric guitars, but is a lot better, in my honest opinion. This song is very fast. The opening guitar riff to this song is very catchy. And one line of this song got caught in my head for a few days. It goes "stick stick stick to your guns / don't quit until you feel like changing them"

"Free Bird" starts off and ends with just the sound of nature (rain, birds ect.), and these sounds continue behind the music for the entire song. This is a very good song. It is very poetic, and the backround sounds add to the poetic aspect. There is also a constant mandolin (I think) playing through out the whole song which is very cool to listen too.

The last song is "Big Bird" This is most likely one of the greatest song Andrew Jackson Jihad has ever written. It just starts with Sean's vocals and continued nature noises for about forty-five seconds. This song seems pretty depressing. There is some really cool back up vocals going on in the verses which are credited as "Knife Man Singers". I am not too sure why they credited them as that, but regardless, this song is spectacular. The perfect way to close a nearly perfect album.

Although  "People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World" is one of the definitive folk-punk records of all time, this album prooves to be a lot more than just a folk-punk record. If I had to put a label on it, sure, it would be folk-punk, but this is so much more than that. This album sees them expirementing with so many different styles and different instruments. This record just has so much going on it that it will be fun to listen to every time. This could very well be as good, possibly better than, "People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World".

Highlights : American Tune, Back Pack, People II 2: Still Peoplin', Big Bird

Music : 8. (No complaints)
Lyrics : 9.5 (witty, clever, perfection)
Artwork :8 (varied dark and bright, just like the music)

Overall : 9

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Neighborhoods - Blink-182 (Review)

I am not a huge Blink-182 fan in the first place, but I always enjoyed a good selection of their music. Although the dick and fart jokes can get a little old, their music has always been fun. That changed on the previous album, Self titled. That album took more of an emo, more serious approach to their music. After that album, they went on a hiatus, and each did side projects. Tom Delonge did Angels and Airwaves, and Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker did +44. Neighborhoods sounds like it could be another Angels and Airwaves album. Considering this is Blink-182's come back album, everyone is habitually going to love it, But for me, it is all of the little things added to this album that drag it down. And they drag it down a tad to far to enjoy the record.

It opens with "Ghost on the Dance Floor".  This a reasonable choice for the opener, besides one embarrasing flaw. The verse melody is identical to the melody of Blink side project, Boxcar Racer's "There is". I think someone probably should've reminded Tom that he is already written this song a few years back, but anyways. It is nothing more or less than a catchy pop song. I guess it is what you would expect from them. Another big thing about this song that I hate (which is one of my biggest problems throughout the whole album) is all the spacey sci-fi sounds in the backround.

Next is "Natives". At first this song sounds just like any other Blink-182 track. The guitar riff is pretty cool. But then when the song actually kicks in, those background effects come in and screw everything up. The chorus gets rid of them though, and carries on a more traditional blink-sounding production. The chorus is one of the strongpoints on the album, but the verses drag it down to much to listen to often.

"Up All Night" was the first single to be released from the album. It is probably the worst track on the standard album. The spacey noises are most noticable in this song. The melody is totally blink-esqu, but it is so over powered by shitty production methods and sci-fi sounds. When this single was released, although hearing Mark and Tom dueting was refreshing, I was still dissapointed. I know for a fact that there is better choices for singles on this record. When people say, "you are obviously wrong because it is number one on the charts" and all that, Yea. Obviously. It is Blink-182's first track in five years. No matter what the quality of the song is, it will be number one. I promise you this.

"After Midnight" is the second single released, I believe. This is a better choice than "Up All Night" in my opinion. Although this continues throughout the whole album, the autotune on Tom's voice is most relevant here. It is embarrasingly hidden. The vocal effects on this song are way to noticable in this song. That is pretty much all I can notice when I hear this song.

After that comes "Heart's All Gone". All of those effects and noises are pretty much gone in this song. This is definitly the song that is most similar to their older albums. It is probably the fastest song on the album, and it is just a straigh-forward pop/punk song. That is exactly what I want from a band like Blink. I don't want any pretentious bullshit like "Snake Charmer" or Angels and Airwaves. The lyrics are handled pretty well in this song also.

"Wishing Well" is another highlight. The drum fills before each pre-chorus is tremendously awful, but that doesn't drag it down too far. This is another straight-forward three minute pop song. This is exactly what I hoped the whole album would sound like (besides that shit excuse for a drum fill). Although those noises are still here, the youthful poppy-ness of this song over powers the flaws in this song.

"Kaleidoscope" is easily the least memorable song on the album. Every time the song ends, I forget how it went (I am not exaggerating). That is not saying it is the worst on the album though, I am just saying that it has nothing worth remembering. Tom's autotune is also painful in this song. It may be as noticible as "After Midnight". The structure to this song also seems like it has no rhyme or reason. I really don't understand it yet.

Next is "This Is Home". This is another song that would sound like Take Off Your Pants and Jacket if it weren't for the synth. The melodies and guitar riffs are extremely similar to their older music. The lead guitar riff in the intro and verses reminds me a lot of their other music. In some places in the song, there is some weird things going on with Tom's voice. I'm not sure if it is an editing problem or it is intentional. If it is intentional, than that is a dumb move by them. Either way, this song is okay.

"MH 4.18.2011" is an okay track. It seems extremely misplaced though. It does not fit on this album what so ever. It takes more of a rock vibe, rather than a pop vibe like the rest of the album. Regardless, it is a pretty cool song. It is pretty distracting though, how this breaks the flow of this album. This really doesn't even seem like a Blink-182 track, let alone a Neighborhoods track.

The closure is "Love Is Dangerous". This, again, is saturated with awful production. The synths are present throughout the whole song. The vocals are pretty bad in this song too. I really hate it how Tom over pronounces certain random syllables in words. Every time he says "dangerous", he over pronounces the last syllable. Not the worst song on the album, but certainly not the best.

Maybe if the album wasn't compressed to all hell, and maybe if the album had more to offer than just synthy sci-fi noises, than I would like it. The songs themselves are not bad, just how they went about handeling them is terrible. Also, maybe if "Even If She Falls" was included on the album I would like it. It is the best song by far and it is left for the deluxe version. The autotune is pretty embarrasing on this album. And Travis's drumming isn't really anything special on the album either. Regardless of quality, people will over listen to this song for the next year just because it is Blink's comeback album, but in all honesty....It isn't good.

Highlights : Heart's All Gone, This is Home, (Even If She Falls)

Music : 4 (Only a few songs actually sound like the band)
Lyrics : 5 (Blink is not a "lyrics band" anyways)
Artwork : 1 (That front cover is a joke)

Overall : 3.5

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

It's Great To Be Alive - Fake Problems (Review)

Earlier this summer, I wrote a review of their latest album, Real Ghosts Caught On Tape. I refered to their creativity and how expiremental they are. Out of all their albums, this contains the most of that. Every song sounds nothing like the last one. That is what I want. That is exactly why Real Ghosts Caught On Tape was a tad dissapointing. If I were to put a label on this album, I think I would call it expiremental folk-punk. It just has so many different elements in it, it is hard to call it anything but fantastic. It is easily my favorite Fake Problems album to date.

The first song is a nice little song called "1234". It is short, sweet, and overall a very nice listen. For a minute long song, it manages to get quite epic at many times. To show everyone that they are not just an average folk-punk band anymore, they decided to add a whole brass section to the first track. Very cool. This song leads straight into the next flawlessly.

"Dream Team" was released as a single and had a video made for it. Good choice making this a single out of any of the rest of these songs. It is the most radio-friendly and catchy song on the album. It is the easiest to digest. To put it in more simple terms, It is the least weird on the album. It is still good, but not as unique as the rest of the album. The video consists of them playing at a house party, and the fun the band is having really reflects on the song.

After that comes "You're a Serpent, You're a She-Snake". This song really contains the expiremental aspect I was talking about. The fuzzy bass is charmingly overwealming, and the synth is the base of the song. It sounds like Pop music, New Wave, and Punk all had one amazing baby. The guitars are distorted to all hell, to the point where you can barely hear what they are playing (which is awesome in my honest opinion). The last segment of the song is EXTREMELY epic, it is ashame that part is so short though. Still, another refreshing song.

"Don't Worry Baby" is contains more folk elements, while maintaining the expiremental feel. It is a very dark song. This song also has the brass section in it, except it feels MUCH different from "1234". It is used in a much darker way. Although the electric guitars are still present, you can also hear the acoustic, which adds to its folky-ness. In the bridge it almost seems like a chant consisting of  "La La La"s and a lot of gang vocals. Towards the end, there is a little 30 second segment that really isn't part of the actual song. It is a total mood change from sinister to happy. It is very cool though.

"The Heaven & Hell Cotillion" is probably the song I have the most plays on on this record. It is a very fun folk song. It is under two minutes long, but in that time, it will surely make you smile. From the entrance of the banjo, to the yodeling breakdown, this is a really happy song about religious confusion. Chris Farren's witty lyrics add to the upbeat feel to this song.

The next song is "Level With The Devil". This song has a lot of cool tempo changes and mood changes. It is good, but doesn't really stand out. Their is some cool mandolin riffs involved and some weird little melodies, but it just feels a tad to long. In my opinion, the song could end half way through and be much better. It begins to drag towards the end. My advice to the band would have been to somehow split it into two parts, so you could still includ the second half. Either way, this isn't an awful song, it is actually pretty neat.

After that is "Diamond Rings". This is another really dark song. The inclusion of the flute was genius in my opinion. I also really dig the falsetto back up vocals in the chorus. The video for this song captures the mood of the song brilliantly. The third verse and third chorus are where my love for this song truely stands. It just feels so full when you get to that point.

"Tabernacle Song" is a slow song. The base of the song is an acoustic guitar. It is another song with the flute. It also has some piano which really sounds nice. Farren's lyrics really stand out on this song. And the short breakdown feels ten times more emotional than the rest of the song. All around a good poppy folk song.

That song leads straight into "Alligator Assassinator". I can't exactly get behind the meaning of this song. The music is cool though. It sounds like rockabilly music kind of. Or maybe just straight-up rock and roll. The song doesn't stand out though. It almost feels like filler.

"There are Times" is a lead guitar driven song. It is really good. It kind of loses the folk genre and kind of replaces it with Indie music. This song sounds like an indie song. The lead guitar is really catchy. I remember reading somewhere that this is lead singer, Chris Farren's, favorite song he has ever written. I wouldn't blame him. This song get really epic at times. The brass section is back and that adds to the song a lot.

"Cold On The Soul" is the slowest and softest song on the album. It is a really nice track. It shows that Chris Farren doesn't just write witty humerous songs, but also serious poetry. There is no percussion in the song at all. It is all based around an acoustic guitar, a banjo, and a quiet synth in the back. It is about lonliness and has a certain vibe that you really don't hear much anymore.

The closure of the album is "Heart BPM". This is one of Fake Problems best song. It reaches triumphant heights. The lyrics are outstanding. It has a very nostalgic atmosphere. It is one of those songs that make you think about everything from past to future. The inclusion of so many instruments I will not bother to even list adds to this. The song ends with the same drum beat that started the album, which I found really cool. Everything about this song is perfection in my honest opinion. You can't put my love for this song into words, so I will not try!

It seems that this album is just one big party. There is so much gang vocals everywhere, and there are different people playing all different kinds of instruments. I really think this album deserves to be known more than it is. Chris Farren's ability to go from comical to emotional is fantastic, and his ability to blend the two is even more impressive. Unlike Real Ghost Caught On Tape, which relied on lead guitar, this album relies on EVERYTHING. By everything, I mean it literally. It is really nice to hear them blend so many different genres together. You may have noticed I have used the word "epic" over a dozen times. But in my opinion, there is no other adjective that describes this album. That is personally what I like in music.

Highlights : The Heaven & Hell Cotillion, Cold On The Soul, Heart BPM

Music : 9 (Every song sounds unique and fresh)
Lyrics : 7 (Witty and humerous, yet serious)
Artwork : 6 (Front cover is the only artwork in it)

Overall : 8.5

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

21st Century Breakdown - Green Day (Review)

Okay, lets get one thing straight before I start this review. Green Day has been my favorite band since like 3rd grade. From 3rd grade to 6th grade I listened to nothing but Green Day. This was just about the time American Idiot came out. Back than I was too young to be a critic, but for some reason I never liked American Idiot either. My thoughts on that album have not changed a bit. I still do not like it, but I still liked them as a band and I looked forward to the next album. Well, I shouldn't have. This is worse than American Idiot. There is not one more element from Green Day pre-2004 included on this album. I tried so hard to like this album. I looked at the lyrics, and music at every way possible trying to some how find a reason to like this album. I failed. Now it just takes up space on my itunes.

"Song of the Century" is just an intro to the album. There is nothing but Billie Joe's vocals and radio static. It has a nice melody, and it does a good job setting up the album, but from a non-artistic standpoint, it just seems like filler.

The title track, "21st Century Breakdown", is the best single on the album. It has a very nice melody and a pretty complex song structure. About halfway through the song, it breaks into what seems to be a whole different song. It gains tempo, and has a lot more energy than the first half. Towards the end of the song, it falls into somewhat of a ballad. It is Green Day's attempt at being an epic arena rock band. They didn't fail, however, Green Day is not an arena rock band. They are a pop/punk band, and they should keep it that way.

The first single, "Know Your Enemy", is down right awful. This feels, for the most part, like filler. It is repetitive throughout the whole song. The whole song consists of pretty much one melody, besides a twenty second bridge. It then breaks into a guitar solo which is just playing the damn melody for the whole time! Billie Joe tries to revive the song by screeching toward the end, but fails.

"Viva La Gloria!" starts off with just vocals and piano. Although the piano is nice like this, It, again, doesn't sound like Green Day. After the song kicks into high gear, it sounds a lot more like Green Day. It is pretty catchy. It is upbeat and actually sounds like some of their older stuff. It is alright, but nothing I will remember years from now.

"Before the Lobotomy" is probably the least memorable track on the album. It begins with an acoustic guitar and vocals and it is extremely boring. No good melody, and nothing special. When the distorted guitars come in, you are expecting something epic to happen, but nothing. Just a lazy guitar riff, and a lazy melody. Not the worse on the album, but the least memorable.

"Christian's Inferno" is one of the best songs on the album. It is much darker than the rest of the album. It really doesn't have the poppy sound the rest of the album revolves around. The verses are, for lack of a better word, very trippy. The guitar and the voice have an effect that makes it even more trippy. The chorus is very fun, and breaks away from the trippy feel. The solo is a tad lazy, but it doesn't drag it down much. It sounds like Green Day's side project, The Network, a lot. I would have to say this is the coolest song on the album.

"Last Night On Earth" is another very good track. It is catchy and pretty slow for a Green Day song, but it still sounds like it's a Green Day song (unlike some other ones on the album). It revolves around piano and acoustic guitar, which is nice. The electric guitar sound very nice too. Songs like these are what makes me look forward to what Green Day does next. I get let down everytime, but still. There are always a couple great songs on every shitty album.

Another single on the album is "East Jesus Nowhere". It is not good. It really expresses their pretentious side, and I really hate it. It just doesn't have the same charm all their other stuff has. I miss the days when Green Day were just a few punks from Oakland. They have taken advantage of their "rockstardom" and took it to an unnecessary level where they just seem like pretentious assholes.

"Peacemakers" is the one of the lowest points on the album (besides one other, which I will get to later). It is just very dumb. It seems like they are trying to get attention for doing something totally unexpected, because it just sounds childish. It is really stupid. It sounds like a mexican party song. It is hard to get through the song without laughing.

"Last of the American Girls" is catchy as all hell, but is way to poppy and over produced to listen to more than twice. The melody is great and all, but this is not a good song at all. Very generic lyrics written a thousand times before by every other band. It sounds like a bad Blink 182 song. This is the kind of song that has gotten them the reputation of being a band for 12 year old girls.

That leads into a song called "Murder City". It isn't very memorable, but it is actually an okay track. It sounds like it could have came from Nimrod with some major production tweaks. The production and the (pretentious) lyrics are the only thing seperating it from Nimrod. It is a straight forward pop/punk song. It is okay, but, again, nothing I will crave for in the future.

The next song is very cool. It is called "Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl)". It sounds reminiscent of old Scooby Doo cartoons with a punk twist on them. Although that may sound dumb, it is executed very well. I love listening to this song. It sounds like something you would hear on the album Warning. It actually songds very similar to the song "Misery" on the album Warning. It has a very unique sound that is hard to explain. You do not hear this kind of song by any bands now. It was quite refreshing when I heard this song.

"Restless Heart Syndrome" is a major bore-fest. I have been making many similarities in this review, but this song sounds like nothing. When I say nothing, I literally mean it sounds like I am listening to nothing through my speakers. When it gets about half way throught the song it gets heavy and sounds like the end of "Blvd. Of Broken Dreams", which I hate with a passion. Bottom line : Don't listen to this song no matter who you are. It has absolutly no substance or character what so ever.

"Horseshoes And Handgrenades" sounds like a failed attempt to sound like their other side project, Foxboro Hot tubs. I love the Foxboro Hot Tubs, I personally think that is the best release by them in the past 10 years, but this song is awful. It sounds like a Foxboro Hot Tubs tribute band who are awful. That is a better way to explain it. It is a tad heavier than the rest of the tracks, but still just as bad.

The next song is "The Static Age". It is nothing too embarassing, yet nothing too great either. The chorus has a very similar melody to "Church On Sunday" on their album Warning. This song was my favorite song when the album came out, but it did not age well. Now, I just see it as another mediocore Green Day song.

Now for the biggest shit stain of a song. "21 Guns" is the biggest piece of shit Green Day has ever released. It sounds like every other soulless top forty bullshit song you hear on the radio. Idiotic idea releasing this song as a single. Shit like this is what makes me embarassed to say I am Green Day fan. Because of this song, I keep my Green Day fandom to myself. I don't understand why the hell they had to release something like this. It makes no sense to me.

"American Eulogy" starts off with the intro to the album "Song Of The Century" with different lyrics. The verse melody is strangely similar to "Deadbeat Holiday" by them on the album Warning....again. It is pretty catchy. It has two seperate parts. In the second part, the bassist, Mike Dirnt, sings. This song isn't great but it is certainly not as bad as half of the other shit on the album.

The closure is "See The Light". This is another unmemorable song. Bad choice as a closure. I personally would've chosen "Last Night On Earth" as the closure. The song closes and opens with the first riff of the title song, so They tried to make a story book ending. That was kind of cool. Not cool enough though!

I can't express in words how dissapointed I was with this album. I hated American Idiot, and this is a step further down. Billie Joe has just become another slave of the music industry. There is not much good to say about this album. I firmly believe that good Green Day is gone and not coming back. Another really awful thing about this album are Billie's vocals. They are absolutly awful. They sound slurred throughout the whole entire album. This is one of the most over produced albums I have ever listened to. Half of these songs would be okay if they weren't compressed to all hell. It really sucks to see bands transform like this. From the eyeliner to this. They are just falling down the drain rapidly in my eyes.

Highlights : Christian's Inferno, Last Night On Earth, Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl)

Music : 3.5 (Godammit GREEN DAY!)
Lyrics : 3 (Trying to be smart, but failing. Same as American Idiot)
Artwork : 6 (Actually pretty cool)

Overall : 3.5

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Real Ghosts Caught On Tape - Fake Problems (Review)

Fake Problems have created quite the name for themselves. They are respected for there creativity in the majority of their songs. Their new album, "Real Ghosts Caught On Tape", is a step away from their other more expiremental music. This album lives up to most of the anticipation, but in a way that wasn't expected from me. This album marks a tremendous step forward in maturity. Most of all the humor that was on previous albums is gone.This creates a whole new vibe in Fake Problem's music.

The first song is "ADT". The chorus in this song is very catchy. It's lyrics are quite memorable, so this makes for a good sing along song. The main guitar riff is also one of the most memorable riffs on the entire album. This was probably an obvious choice for an opener because it sets up the album quite perfectly.

After that comes "5678" You would think this would have something to do with It's Great To Be Alive's "1234", but it has nothing to do with it lyrically or musicly. This is the one song that seems to drift from the constant sound of the rest of the album. That is neither a bad thing or a good thing It just doesn't sound like the rest of the album, which makes it stand out a bit. This is another very catchy tune. I had this song stuck in my head for a while.

Next is "Songs For Teenagers". This is a slightly softer track than the rest of the album. It has some pretty cool percussion in parts of it. This song focuses less on the on the catchy aspect of the past two songs, and it focuses more on the songwriting aspect. It succeeds as a great song. This song enforces my thought on maturity. Although you can still hear some aspects of the band's previous albums, this song has moved so much further than that.

"RSVP" starts a run of six or seven songs of the same feel. They are all fun songs with many hooks. This song consists of a simple Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus structure. The bridge is very nice. It is a bit short but  adds a the best twenty seconds of the song. And that leads back into the chorus. This is a simple, but very nice song.

"Soulless" is the most well known track on the album, and is most likely the most known song by the band. This was an excellent choice for a single. Down the road, this is what Fake Problems will probably be remembered by. It almost sounds like motown meets punk rock. It is not often you hear girl back-up vocals in a punk band. I thought this was very cool.

The song "Complain Dept." carries the same theme and overall sound as the rest of the album. It is a great track, which all of them are, but there really is nothing to say different about it than all the rest of the songs on the album. I will say it again, and probably many more times. It is a catchy, straight-forward indie/punk song.

The next song is "Done With Fun". This one stands out from the rest of them. Although it is the same style of music as the rest of the album, it seems that the verses put a lot more emphasis on a sound that almost seems like it is aimed at being a somewhat tropical theme. It has sort of a vacation style vibe. The lead guitar is what makes it seems "tropical". They are driving throughout the whole song and really seem to stand out in the song.

"The Magazines" seems to have a slightly slower and more sad feel to it. From what I get out of it, it is about the narrator (Chris Farren) becoming slightly well-known and rising to become a small "rockstar". He seems a tad dissapointed with it. It seems he is discontent and unsure about how people seem to know so much about him, yet he doesn't know a thing about them. I always seem to listen to "Magazines" whenever I listen to "Done With Fun" and vise versa for some reason. I always picture these two together as one song.

The song after that is "White Lies". "White Lies" has a very unfamiliar sound. It seems to slightly drift from the rest of the album, while maintaining the happy up-beat feel. The main lead guitar riff in this song is fantastic. It always manages to get stuck in my head. Casey Lee always manages to break out some cool lead guitar parts.

"Grand Finale" is one of the greatest songs Fake Problems have ever released. It is epic from start to finish. I can easily say this is the best on the record, and most likely their best overall. The first half of the song is a driving rock song. About half way through the song, it falls into a breakdown. The breakdown is a build that leads to tremendous heights. The build takes up about the whole second half of this five minute song, until it rips back into the rockin' chorus. The lyrics are extremely well writen, as well as the music itself.

"Ghost To Coast" takes it down a notch for the closure. Very soft and slow song. It is almost depressing, in a good way though (if that makes any sense). The is the biggest piece of evidence showing maturity yet. It seems wierd that the same band that wrote "Born and Raised" (which I love), wrote this (which I also love). This is such a massive step forward for them. I am not so sure as this song's inclusion, though. Although this song is great, I strongly believe "Grand Finale" would have worked a lot better as the closing track. I understand where they are coming from chosing this, I just think "Grand Finale" is a better choice.

Although this album is fantastic, it is not what I hoped for Fake Problems. I understand maturity is good, but I also understand that half of Fake Problems' charm was their humor. I am really in between whether I feel the maturity is what I wanted, or if the humor is what I wanted. I guess I am on both sides. I can see both arguements. One thing I noticed about this album is that the drum's seem soulless (Pun intended). It seems as if the drummer is just drumming as a job. I cannot feel the heart in the drums on this record at all. Another thing I must note is that the lead guitar is what keeps this album alive for the most part. Although this album may seem a tad repetitive, I see it as they are repeating something fantastic. All issues aside, I believe this is a very strong album front to back.

Highlights : Soulless, Done With Fun, Grand Finale

Music : 7.5 (Good enough!)
Lyrics : 6 (Meh, not the highlight for the most part, but not bad)
Artwork : 8.5 (Fits the "tropical" or "summer" theme PERFECTLY)

Overall : 7.5

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vacation - Bomb The Music Industry! (Review)

Bomb the Music Industry! is a band that putting a genre on is extremely difficult. Their sound is so different from everything else. With this record, though, they have taken it to the next level. Their sound is way more mature than any of their previous albums. In short, this album is the perfect summer album. Although I consider all of their albums summer albums, this one stands out as one. This is one major step in the right direction.

It all starts out with "Campaign for a Better Next Weekend". It doesn't sound very similar to the summer-ish feel the rest of the album has. The first half of the song consists of mostly piano and vocals. When the backing vocals come in, it is very magical. The second half of the song gets into the more traditional punk rock musicianship; guitar, distortion, driving drums, ect. The first half of the song gives you the idea that this band has matured a drastic amount since their last album. The band certainly has matured, just not as much as the first half of this song makes out. Very cool song to start off with. It gives you an emotion that is quite hard to explain, so I will not attempt to explain it!

The greatness continues in "Vocal Coach". It is an upbeat fun song that has the same feeling that most of all Bomb The Music Industry!'s music. Their is an xylophone, an organ, and a synthesizer playing through the whole song, which makes it sound even more like Bomb The Music Industry other music. Music like this backs up my point of maturity while maintaining the old fun vibe. This song sounds a lot like Elvis Costello I have noticed. The music sounds like early Costello, but his voice also sounds very similar. That is a good thing, by the way.

The song "Everybody That You Love" was released sometime last year and has quickly made me realise how much of love the joyfullness of the band. This one really shows the early chaotic sound they have become known for. It almost sounds like a massive party. The various melodies in this song are extremely catchy. I have been humming them all week. The distortion on the guitar is so overwhelming, it is fantastic.

"Sponge Board/ Baby Waves" is just a little interlude added for extra affect and it gives it very nicely. It just feels like a quick conclusion to "Everybody That You Love".

The next song is  "The Shit That You Hate". It starts out acoustic. Around the halfway point is where drums and distorted guitars come in. This is a cool song. It is just about six minutes long which makes it the longest track on the record. The song kind of reminds me of their song "Get Warmer" from the album of the same name. This is pretty epic tune.

After that comes "Hurricane Waves". This is a very cool track. If The Beach Boys were a few punk kids, this would most likely be the result. This song is the definitive summer track on this album. I can imagine this song becoming a song that reminds me of summer. Matter of fact, it already does! This is exactly what I was talking about when I said this is a summer album. Perfect summer track. I almost consider it the main track of the album because it sums up the album so perfectly.

"Sick, Later." is another FANTASTIC song. The catchiest song of the album. This song has been stuck in my head for the whole entire week. The main riff in the song is a bit difficult to get behind, but after four or five listens, you will start to understand it a bit more. And when you do understand it, I garuntee, it will be stuck in your head. The confusion I had with the main riff faded quickly, and I honestly hadn't thought of it that way again. The last verse in the song with the riff played on the synth confirms my love for this song. This is one of the bests they have ever released.

"Why, Oh Why, Oh Why (Oh Oh Oh Oh)" is the next song. This is another very happy tune. From the start it sounds like something Springsteen would release, but when you get into the verse you realize this is another song that sounds identical to Elvis Costello. The voice sounds just like him. Almost sounds like he is trying to sound like him in a few parts. And, again, that is not a bad thing. It just means he draws inspiration from good places, that is a good thing!

"Savers" comes next. This one has a slightly slower tempo than the rest of the songs. It is not very slow, just enough to be noticed. I realize I have made a lot of comparisons in this review, but I have just one more. This song could easily be a Weezer song. The crunch in the guitar tone is very Weezer-like. The melody and solo are also very Weezer-like. The guitar tone is the highlight of this song. It is very distorted and it has a great sound.

"Savers" leads perfectly into the epic song "Can't Complain". This is a fantastic uplifting song. The acoustic guitar is the base of the song, but there is much more than that. There is electric guitar, drums, xylophone, and Casey Lee (of the fantastic band Fake Problems) plays the pedal steel guitar which adds a lot. It is a song about loving life and realising that what you have is enough to be happy. Everything about this song makes me happy.

Then comes "Everybody That Loves You". This brings back the fast tempo to the album. Musicly and lyrically, this song seems like it acts as sequel to "Sick, Later.". This song has some catchy lead guitar riffs too. This song sounds more like their older stuff. It is very very good, catchy, and fun. And it leads perfectly into the next song.

"'Sunny Place/Shady People" is another interlude. This is a very synth-heavy track also. To me, this is just the introduction to "Felt Just Like Vacation" (intro to the end of the album). The last part of the song sings the same melody as the next song, so that backs my observation up. It is pretty cool. The title of the song is very witty too, in my opinion.

It ends with "Felt Just Like Vacation". A very fast-tempo song. The solo toward the middle of the song sounds like it came straight from an old nintendo game. I thought that was very cool. This song has some of the most epic stuff Bomb The Music Industry has done yet. The huge outro to this song is mesmorizing and closes the album PERFECTLY while the synth plays the main piano riff of "Campaign". Story book endings at their best.

This is a great way to spend a summer, with this album on repeat. I could listen to it over and over again and it will still manage to make me very happy. The album really works as a whole. You can't really just take certain songs, it is the album. The album should be listened to all together for the full affect. The album has guest contributions from members of Fake Problems, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and much more. The album works perfectly as a summer album. Although the inspiration is a little too obvious, it doesn't take away from the greatness of the album. This is a very easy listen and I could picture me listening to this album for a long time!

Highlights : Campaign for a Better Next Weekend, Hurricane Waves, Sick, Later, Can't Complain, Felt Just Like Vacation

Music : 10 (Fun, summer music)
Lyrics : 10 (Witty and all around great.)
Artwork : 9 (fits the summer theme perfectly)

Overall : 10
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PS. There is a hidden track which is also amazing, but I don't believe hidden tracks are actually part of the album, so I didn't review it. But if you check the album out, make sure to listen to it!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Russian Spies / Occult Enemies - Against Me! (Review)

Against Me! have just released a new single a couple of weeks ago. It consists of "Russian Spies" and "Occult Enemies" Both of these songs sound so much cooler than the majority of the tracks on White Crosses. I don't know if you'd say return to form, but this is a start. The fact that they left the major label and started their own doesn't hurt either.

The first song, "Russian Spies" is more reminiscent of White Crosses than the "Occult Enemies". It sounds like a slightly heavier and more heartfelt Whte Crosses song. It sounds like the song is about forgetting about enemies like russian spies, and moving on to somethng bigger and more modern. I believe he is pointing fingers at terrorism. It is a pretty rocking song.

The other track on the album is "Occult Enemies". This song is sounds a lot more like their older stuff than White Crosses. It is very up-beat. And this song shows how Jay Weinberg can rock the drums. His skills really are shown off in this song. Jay Weinberg's drumming skills almost make me forget about Warren Oakes...almost. The song has quickly became one of my favorite Against Me! songs.

Music : 7 (a step in the right direction)
Lyrics : 8 (Tom Gabel rarely dissapoints with his lyrics)
Artwork : 7 (The cover art is nice)

Overall : 7

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

England Keep My Bones - Frank Turner (Review)

I discovered Frank Turner about a year and a half ago. He was supporting Social Distortion at the show I attended. I bought two of his albums (Love Ire & Song and Poetry of The Deed). I loved them, but one thing I noticed is that one of the coolest songs he played that night ("I Still Believe") was not on either of them. So my first instinct was to check the tracklist of the one album I didn't buy there. I was dissapointed to find out it wasn't on their either. I went a few months while forgetting about it, but then I heard news of him releasing a new record. This got me extremely excited because I figured this song would be on it. Come to find out, it was, plus many many more very great songs.

"Eulogy" doesn't exactly have the role of "just another song" on the album. To me, it is taking the role of an epic introduction to a fairly epic album. It starts with a nice brass section for the first half. And then it breaks into Turner and his acoustic. Soon after that comes the whole band plunging in to the song. It has a nice build to it and it does a nice job catching the heart of the rest of the album.

After that is "Peggy Sang The Blues". Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this song is about his grandma. It sings about Turner's dreams about his grandmother, Peggy. This is the second single off of England Keep My Bones (following "I Still Believe"), and although there are better choices for singles, this was still a reasonable choice for a single. I could picture this song getting some airplay.

Next comes "I Still Believe". This is the first song I heard from England Keep My Bones. And it has been my one of my favorite Frank Turner songs since I first heard it. It is an anthem of how music can dramaticly change one's life. With lines like "Who would've thought, that after all. Something as simple as rock n' roll could save us all", it makes it pretty clear what the message of the song is. The music continues the folk-punk sound of his early records. This is a really meaningfully song and it ages very well.

"Rivers" is the least memorable song on the record. I've went through the album many times, and this is the one that just doesn't stick like the others. It is not a bad song, and I would not skip it when listening to the album in the future, it just doesn't have the charm of the other songs. I also don't quite get what the song is about. I can not get behind the meaning of this song. Although it is not a bad song, I could live without it.

And then we have "I Am Disappeared". Unlike the last song, this song is totally memorable. This is actually the first song I relistened to after my first listen of the album. It is very up-beat throughout the whole song. The piano in the chorus is very magical and adds something very special. The second half of the track is a breakdown. The breakdown is build that reaches massive heights. I heard in a live performance that this song is about a dream Turner had about driving a car around with Bob Dylan. While that is cool and all, it is too specific to the individual. I like to look at it as if it is about regrets. I believe he is saying "be young while you can, because in the future, you will be sorry". That is my view on this song.

The next song is very unique. It is called "English Curse". It consists of Frank singing by himself without any instruments at all. It is just him singing alone for two whole minutes. I personally loved this song. It has so much character. The melody of this song is very dark and sinister. He sings about english history, which I do not know much about. This song is proof of how good of a story teller Frank Turner is. He kept my attention throughout the whole song without the help of any instruments. This song also displays how much power his voice has. It is really noticeable in this song.

Continuing the darkness of the last song is "One Foot Before The Other". This is the heaviest song off of the album. It is most likely the heaviest Frank Turner song overall. It is very good, though. Although it does not sound like a Frank Turner song, it still keeps you listening, and it is always fun to listen to this song. "One Foot Before The Other" explains Turner's desire to be remembered and to be continued through others. These lyrics add to the darkness of this song's music.

After that is "If Ever I Stray". This song would have been a better choice to release as a single than "Peggy Sang The Blues". This song is huge! I could imagin hearing this on the radio. I could also imagin this catching a casual listeners attention. About half way through the song, they introduce a brass section which makes the song even bigger. The line in the chorus which reads "As long as I've got me a place to sleep, clothes on my back and some food to eat. I can't ask for anything more" sums up this song perfectly.

"Wessex Boy" is another radio friendly track. This would have also been a better choice for a single than "Peggy Sang The Blues". This is a very catchy track. It seems to have a stripped down feel, while at the same time, it is a big rock song. It is about never forgetting about where you came from and it is also about memories. It gives you a sense of nostalgia through out the entire song. This song also feels like it is the start of the end of the album. It maintains that position very well. You can feel the album coming to a gradual ending.

"Nights Become Days" is a very nice song. This captures the "stripped down to the basics" feel more than the last one. It mostly consists of just Frank and his guitar. Later, it adds more abstract instruments, including a very magical piano riff. It gives it a very mysterious vibe to it. From how I look at it, this song is about drug addiction. It is hard to tell though. He tells this story in a very poetic way. " Nights Become Days" continues the slow ending of the album.

The next track is "Redemption" In this song, Turner sings about regret, which seems to be a reoccuring theme of the album. It deserves more than one listen. At first I couldn't really get into the song, but after my 2nd or 3rd listen of the album, I really understood the song. The bridge of the song continues the hard rock feel that "One Foot Before The Other" consisted of. The guitar in this song is very emotional, and it helps the song an enormous amount.

The closure for England Keep My Bones is "Glory Hallelujah". "Glory Hallelujah" starts off with just, what sounds like, a church organ. Which is probably intended considering the song is about atheism. The lyrics are about not basing your life on religion. This song is reminiscent of some of Social Distortion's music. The melody, and overall vibe of the song sounds a lot like something off of Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes. Overall, I am not so sure I like this song as the closure. It is a good song, but it doesn't seem signifigant to the album enough to be the closure.

This album is good in almost every way. Frank Turner added some new elements to his music, while keeping his folk-punk charm. They included a lot more piano than in the previous albums, and it worked very well. The piano is "vital to the whole damn operation" (Yes, pun intended). One thing I noticed about the lyrics is that Turner seemed to add a lot of England references. That is neither a good or bad thing for me because I am not familiar with English history. This album seems like less of a band effort than his last album, Poetry of the Deed. It seems as if this is mainly focused on Turner's poetry and guitar. That is a good thing. Frank Turner is a growing poet, and on each album, he shows a massive amount of progression. I am always excited to hear new Frank Turner music.

Highlights : Eulogy, I Still Believe, I Am Disappeared, English Curse

Music : 9 (Frank Turner's music is always great)
Lyrics : 9 (More matured than anything he has done before)
Artwork : 7 (Pretty nice, nothing special)

Overall : 8.5 (As a whole, it is very constant. Not a bad song on it)

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Angles - The Strokes (Review)

The Strokes are one of my favorite indie rock bands. I just recently got into them this year. Before then I was just a casual fan. I can remember my brother listening to their 1st album, "Is This It?", and that really stood out for me. I started to become a big fan a few months before this album was released. Now that does not mean I didn't have expectations. I actually had more expectations than you could imagine. One thing I was expecting is something better than their last album, "First Impressions Of Earth". I recieved that. This album was a huge step up from that album.

"Machu Picchu" is the first song on this album. This was a pretty cool way to open the album because it sounds a lot like their older material. This sounds like a band doing what they are good at and what they want to do. As you will read later on in this review, this whole album is not that way. I almost think using this as an opener gives us false hope the rest of the album will be stripped down like "Is This It?". Either way, It is still a really rad song.

"Under Cover of Darkness" is what really made me excited for this album. This is the first single off of this album and was released a month or two before the album's release. From my first listen of this song, I loved it. If you are a Strokes fan at all, you will enjoy this song. It has the same pop sound that their older stuff has. This reminds me of "Is This It?" more so than the last song. The guitar in this song is fantastic and always makes for a fun listen. One thing I do have to say. This song has a very different type of production than the rest of the album. It doesn't seem like it fits with these other songs at all.

The next song is "Two Kinds Of Happiness". This song sounds kind of like older new wave bands like The Cars or The Talking Heads. The verses are cool and catchy, but you can barely hear a word Julian is saying. Especially in the 2nd verse, it is very hard to hear what he is saying. And the chorus is just boring. I find it hard to listen to this song all the way through. Not because it is awful, just because it is a bit boring.

After that comes "You're So Right". This is the part of the album where you realize it is not what you expected. This song could use a lot of work. This song makes it seem like The Strokes are trying to be weird. When I say that, I put emphasis on trying. Being weird is not bad (It's actually good), trying to be weird makes you come across as being fake and just trying to be heard. This song is just a little too weird to listen to.

"Taken For A Fool" is the next song. This song really shows off Julian Casablancas's voice. That is what stood out for me. This and the extremely catchy chorus is what makes this song so awesome. I don't know if I am the only one feeling this, but in the chorus, I almost get a Gorillaz vibe. This is another song that actually sounds like the band doing what they want.

Next comes "Games". "Games" is an awesome song. It really shows their ability to be artistic, without pushing it (ex : "You're So Right", "Call Me Back", "Metabolism"). I think this song is an example of The Strokes being weird without trying to be. Once this song hits the halfway mark it gets even better. There is a very nice solo and the melodic synth continues. The synth is really the driving force behind this whole song. This is a perfect piece of modern art.

The weirdness continues with "Call Me Back". I, by no means, hate this song. I just think they pushed the limits a little bit with oddness of it. What I get out of the lyrics of this song is that the person speaking is in some sort of relationship and is curious of the partners feelings. He is trying to avoid asking the partner because of fear of rejection. Now, I am no genius so I could, very well, be wrong, but that's what I get out of it. And if that is the case, than the music fits it pretty good. It is a pretty dark song, and the whispered post-choruses add to the darkness. "Call Me Back" is a pretty good addition to the album. I always like listening to it.

Next comes "Gratisfaction". It is another great song. It is also refreshing because it is in the middle of a few strange tracks. This is not one of those tracks at all. This sounds just like you'd expect a Strokes song to sound like. It has a very happy vibe to it. It sounds like a party song, a song you can imagine listening to with all of your friends. I don't have much to say about this song. Just a good catchy song, nothing more, nothing less.

Here we go again with the strangeness. "Metabolism" sounds like it came straight from "First Impressions Of Earth". It has that darker more sinister feeling to it. This seems like a very relatable song about wanting to be something more important. Although, many may find this song to be hard to relate to because of how dark and depressing it sounds. Now, in my opinion, I think this is a fantastic concept for a song (a dark song about being unsatisfied with yourself), but the lyrics are awfully executed. They are very repetitive and lazy. This song actually would have been a stand out track if the lyrics weren't so amateurish, but because of them, it becomes one of the low points.

And now for the best of the album. "Life Is Simple In The Moonlight" shows Julian's true brilliance. This is poetry of a genius. To me (feel free to correct me if I am wrong), the song is about what the world and its inhabitants have become. About how, in modern thinking, getting through your daily routine and doing things just because "it is what everyone does" is what we think of as innocence, but we are oblivious of the fact that this makes us more guilty than comitting any crime. I think this is quite possibly my favorite Strokes song lyrically. It is beautifully illustrated poetry that has a messege I can totally get behind. Out of all the songs on this album, none of them stand a chance against this. I get lost in this song everytime I listen to it. The absolute perfect way to end this album.

Overall, I find myself listening to this album a lot. In all honesty, the variety of songs probably makes this my 2nd favorite Strokes record (behind "Is This It?"). I know during the review, I talked about the oddness as being bad, but I actually think that is what makes this album so damn fun to listen to. This is a very colorful album from start to finish. It certainly sounds like nothing The Strokes have released before and that is what makes it such an enjoyable listen. One complain I have is that Albert Hammond, Jr. is on it so little, his absence is actually very dissapointing. I think he may have been in rehab for the majority of the recording process, so that could be why he is barely present at all. Another complaint is that in a lot of the songs they made it so difficult to hear the vocals, but decided to leave the lyrics out of the notes in the cd. That was a really dumb decision in my eyes. In the end, I think it is safe to say that this is yet another fantastic release by The Strokes.

Highlights : Machu Picchu, Under Cover of Darkness, Games, Life Is Simple In The Moonlight, and the guitars are very nice on this album

Music : 6 (Half of it is amazing, Half of it is alright. None of it is really bad)
Lyrics : 7 (Probably would be a 6 if it weren't for "Life Is Simple In The Moonlight")
Artwork : 8 (Colorful art for a colorful album. Also like how the credits are designed)

Overall : 7 (As an album, it works out pretty well)

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes - Social Distortion (Review)

I have been waiting for this album since about a year ago when I saw Social Distortion for the first time in concert. They played about four songs off of this album if I remember correctly. I was amazed at how good they sounded. Since than, I could not think about anything else besides having this CD in my hand. This album turned out to be a fun heart-filled album with some true soul put into it.

The opener is a song called "Road Zombie". I am pretty sure this is just ment to act as an intro to the album, which it does fantasticly. It is also something more though. This could possibly be the best song on the album. It has the same aggressive sound as their first album "Mommy's Little Monster" and the sound of  "White Light White Heat White Trash".

The next one is a full on rock n' roll song. It is called "California (Hustle And Flow)". It is much more rock n' roll than their earlier punk music. It will also appeal to fans of soul music too. It has wonderfull back-up vocals. No work of brilliance here, just a fun rockin' song. (Social Distortion fans should be used to rockin' songs like this now!)

Now for one of my personal favorites. This one is called "Gimme The Sweet And Lowdown". The chorus brings a very new sound to Social Distortion's usual music. In all honesty, the chorus doesn't sound much like them, but it is very catchy either way. Besides the chorus, it sounds just like any other Social Distortion song to me. The chorus is where it really shines.

After my first listen of the album, one of the only songs that stuck in my head for hours after is "Diamond In The Rough". This is a very nice song. In my opinion, it sounds a lot like the kind of music that Sex, Love, and Rock N' Roll consisted of. It is one of the essesntials on the album. I believe this song has been played live many times before, and has been a fan favorite years before this album. I never heard of it before this album though, so boy am I happy they added it! I understand the love for this song. It is very catchy and if your taste is anything like mine, it will be in your head for the next few days.

The first single off of this album is "Machine Gun Blues". This is one of the low points on the album for me. It is kind of odd they chose this as the first single considering there is a lot more radio-friendly music on this album (see "Far Side Of Nowhere" or "Gimme The Sweet And Lowdown"). This song is not awful by no means, it just doesn't stand out. It has the same vibe as "Road Zombie" (the old-school harder material),but it doesn't even come close to reaching the highs "Road Zombie" did.

"Bakersfield"...What a bore! Well, we all know on every album, we find at least one piece of garbage. This album has two. This is the first. "Bakersfield" drags for a long six and a half minutes. The only part that stands out AT ALL is the spoken word segment that occurs with a about two minutes left. That's all I have to say about this song.

After that comes "Far Side Of Nowhere". This is probably the closest thing Social Distortion has to pop music. I could totally picture this coming on your local alternative radio station. By pop, I by no means mean bad, i just mean it will probably be praised by casual listeners.

Next song is "Alone And Forsaken". I believe this song is a cover. I don't know much about this song, so I'll have little to write about. What I will say is that I enjoy listening to this song a lot. It is a very dark and sinister sounding song. It makes for a good listen every time.

The song after that is "Writing On The Wall". This is a slower and softer song which opens with a nice little piano riff. This is one song on the album where Mike Ness's song writing skills shine. The lyrics in this song stand out a lot more than the other songs. I'd say this is another essential from this album.

And now for the second bummer of the album. "Can't Take It With You" is the second piece of garbage on this album. Unlike "Bakersfield" though, this song has absolutly NO highlights which makes these five minutes the worst on the album in my opinion. I guess the soul singers in the background are pretty interesting, but they don't really add much. Whew!!! Glad I got that over with!

The closure of this album is a song called "Still Alive". This is one of the songs they played at the concert I went to. I loved this song in concert. It was spectacular. On the album though, it is different. It is still good, just not as good. They have a totally different feeling with it. I believe the over-production is to blame for that. This is a serious case where production takes over the song and ultimatly ruins it. It is still okay. Cool way to close an album, I guess, but still. Production is the biggest killer in the punk rock world.

Overall, this is a good album. It is at some points dissapointing ("Still Alive"), but that doesn't bring the rest of the album down by too much. Every album has to have a few bummers. This is no exception.Although it is amazing how Social Distortion have kept relevant and talented all through their long career. One thing added to this album that was purely amazing is the back-up vocals. They totally exceeded in that aspect. Also something different about this album is the tone of the guitar. It sounds less like a Social Distortion record, and more like a blues record. This was also neat. I'd say overall, I am half pleased, half dissapointed.

Highlights : Road Zombie, Diamond In The Rough, Writing On The Wall

Music : 8 (Pretty refreshing)
Lyrics : 6.5 (Very lazy song writing. "Writing On The Wall" is the best song lyricaly)
Artwork : 6.5 (Cover art is pretty cool. The actual CD and the booklet cover are lame though)

Overall : 7

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