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Frank Turner

Positive Songs for Negative People

Xtra Mile Recordings
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Frank Turner has come a long way from the hungover punk quietly strumming his guitar on a side stage at a folk festival. With his last two albums, he clearly announced his intentions to cater to the arena crowds, adding plenty of accompaniment to supplement his sing-along anthems. Somewhere during this transition his songs began to play on mainstream radio and his shows became an awkward blend of young drunken frat bros and old punk rockers. Having released six albums, three compilations, a live recording, splits and numerous EPs in only the past nine years, Turner is undeniably a prolific recording artist. But this tendency to release every snippet of song has resulted in some dead weight in the past, including the bulk of his previous full-length, Tape Deck Heart

Thankfully, Positive Songs is a refreshing song collection from North America’s favourite troubadour with a funny accent. This isn’t a complete departure, rather it seems like a logical progression in his continued album cycle. There are many England-specific references that most people won’t get (although you don’t need to know Winnipeg to appreciate The Weakerthans), lots of references to roads and plenty of charming songs about love, sadness and travelling. Where the last release seemed like an awkward glimpse into his personal diary of heartbreak filtered through Foo Fighters styled arena rock, this time around we see glimmers of hope. This isn’t exactly hardcore PMA though, Turner’s knack for self-deprecation and sad bastard barroom sing-alongs are still present. The juxtaposition suggested in the title is aptly played out in the song list, as a choir sings rejoice, rebuild, the storm has gone (The Next Storm) seconds before Turner makes the proclamation that I am so much worse than I have ever been (The Opening Act of Spring). But the dominant emotion on the album is channeled on Get Better, which is a triumphant call to healing, as he sings repeatedly We can get better because we’re not dead yet as the song ends. 

While musically the album is not a large departure from what we have seen before, there is enough variation to keep it from feeling stagnant. On Glorious You a funky bass line drives the song as the lyrics celebrate what makes a friend great. The backing vocals from talented Canadians Billy the Kid and Lindi Ortega  add some interesting harmonies. The ghost of Frank Turner’s punk rock past briefly shows up on Out of Breath, which effectively blends post-hardcore, arena rock and a dose of Celtic punk. While it sounds like a recipe for disaster, the lively track provides a welcome change of pace in the album and adds to its diversity, which is where Tape Deck Heart failed so miserably. On Josephine, the music is reminiscent of The Killers, as he sings a love song with plenty of whoas in the background. The music at the start of Love Forty Down sounds like he is attempting a folk punk cover of a pop punk song. It’s both ridiculous and wonderful at the same time in a way that only he could pull off. On the final track, he completes the cycle that started with the restrained folk of the opener. Song for Josh is a live acoustic track that laments the suicide of a friend. It is a strong finish to the album. 

On the first listen through it is clear that this is a great album. It is a long way from the scrappy folk of Campfire Punk Rock, but it is one of the strongest of his many song collections. Perhaps it is just the gradual realization that he is an artist who is going to play what he wants.Many people felt a similar level of acceptance when Against Me! released Transgender Dysphoria Blues, which came from a completely different musical world than Reinventing Axl Rose, but was just as great. I accept the fact that I might be standing next to a kid half my age at a Frank Turner show. Good music is simply good music.

Hollywood Undead Stream ‘War Child’, Announce Tour

dayofthedead_albumartLA hiphop/rock/punk crossover act Hollywood Undead are streaming War Child, the first single from their new album Day of the Dead via Billboard.com. The album dropped yesterday vai Interscope Records and the band will be hitting the road later this month in support of the record. 

Check out the full list of tour dates and the stream of War Child, below.

Read More…

Rise Against Post Lyric Video For ‘Time + Tragedy’

Rise-AgainstChicago punks Rise Against have posted a lyric video for Time + Tragedy, a track taken from their critically acclaimed new album The Black Market, which was released earlier this year via Interscope Records. 

Check out the video below (US and Canada only)

Read More…

Tours: Rise Against (US)

Rise-AgainstRise Against has announced that they will be setting our for a tour of North American.  The band is supporting their recently released new full length, The Black Market, released earlier this summer on Interscope Records.  

Full dates are below.

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Video: Rise Against – ‘I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore’

Rise AgainstChicago punks Rise Against have posted the official video for their track I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore, the lead single from their just-released new record, The Black Market. This is the band’s fifth full length and it dropped earlier this month via Interscope Records.

The band have also announced tour dates in Europe, UK and North American for later this year, check out the full dates and the video for I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore below.

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Tour: Rise Against (UK & Europe)

rise_against_2014Ahead of the release of their new album Endgame, Chicago punks Rise Against have announced their first tour dates in support of the record. UK fans will rejoice as the band will be back in the country starting in November for a series of headlining dates for the first time since 2011.

Endgame is due to drop on July 14th via Interscope Records, pre orders available here and you can check out the full list of tour dates below:

Read More…

Interview: Frank Turner

Frank TurnerAs he embarked on his first North American tour in support of his major label debut, Tape Deck HeartFrank Turner took some time from his busy schedule to discuss the tour, his back injury and his plans for his new hardcore side project, Mongol Horde.

Read the interview here.

 

Frank Turner

Frank Turner

Frank Turner

Interscope Records
By on October 7th, 2013 at The Waiting Room - Omaha, NE

 

 

As he embarked on his first North American tour in support of his major label debut, Tape Deck HeartFrank Turner took some time from his busy schedule to discuss the tour, his back injury and his plans for his new hardcore side project, Mongol Horde.

Read More…

Weezer - The Red Album

Weezer

The Red Album

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Pork and Beans excited Weezer fans again. The single gave fans hope of the band returning to their glory sound of The Blue Album. Crunchy guitars, great harmonies, and Rivers Cuomo’s tongue in cheeks lyrics with a “fuck you” edge all pointed in a direction of nerd rock genius. But in every aspect where Pork and Beans soared, most of The Red Album falls flat.

It doesn’t start off that way though as Troublemaker kicks off the album on a positive note. More energetic and with a stronger beat than the single, the track is still filled with Cuomo’s signature lyrics and harmonies which make it a solid introduction to the album as it hints at the magic of The Blue Album while still maintaining a new sound of growth. The five minute Greatest Man That Every lived (Variations on A Shaker Hymn) doesn’t take that route but instead ventures down the path of experimentation. Its a genre hopping track that jumps from nerd rock to gospel choir with even glam rock elements that hint atThe Darkness and Queen. It’s an eclectic, arrogant piece of music that would cap off any album perfectly and fells oddly placed as the second song but is strong enough to pass over that bump. Pork and Beans follows before being slowed down with Heart Songs. The acoustic track gets points in my book due to it’s constant references to tracks of old and even though it lacks a certain punch it shines with lyrics like “Back in 1991 / I wasn’t havin’ any fun / ‘Till my roommate said / ” Come on and put a brand new record on” / Had a baby on it / He was naked on it / Then I heard the chords / That broke the chains / I had upon me.”

But its from that point on that the record starts getting a little wonky. Everybody Gets Dangerous sounds like the Blaqk Audio to Weezer‘s AFIDreamin’ would be a memorable track of classic Weezersounds had it not been place amongst the two abnormal tracks: Everybody Gets Dangerous and Thought I Knew; the latter of which doesn’t sound a thing like Weezer. It may be commendable to expand and let others take over lead vocal duties but guitarist Brian Bell’s attempt just sounds way too out of place and oddly western. Patrick’s WIlson’s Automatic and Scott Shriner’s Cold Dark World don’t do much better as they sound a little forced without much identity. Even Cuomo can’t save the final tune and The Angel and The One is simply boring – its seven minute of dull strumming and I think I’ve only been able to sit through it once.

It makes it so that The Red Album feels as if its split into two releases: one that I’ll listen to a lot and one that will never be played again. They experimented, tried for something new and it just didn’t work out. There’s still some gems in there and if they can stick to that tone then maybe on their next album they’ll deliver ten songs worthy of repeated listens instead of only four.

Weezer -Raditude

Weezer

Raditude

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Weezer are one of those bands that will always be compared to their earlier work. Fans and critics alike constantly say that they’re disappointed that the new Weezer album isn’t like Pinkerton or The Blue Album. To say a band has changed and that they aren’t as good as they used to be is an easy fall back and a crutch for people who aren’t quite sure what to think when a band evolves and pushes their boundaries. For their part Weezer couldn’t care less. They take that criticism in stride and do whatever the hell they want. Who else could go do one music video surrounded by muppets and follow it up by a video surrounded by Playboy bunnies? Who else could dress up like the updated version of the Village People and slap it as the cover of their third self-titled album? For that matter, who else releases three self-titled albums?

Weezer doesn’t care, they push their boundaries, mix things up and do whatever the hell they want. On their seventh studio album, cleverly titled Raditude, Rivers Cuomo and the rest of Weezer continue to pull out all the stops and pack the album with surprises left, right, and centre – even the fact that the album was released less than a year and a half since The Red Album was released came as a surprise.

Raditude is a goofy album that has Weezer joking around and messing with their signature sound to create ten comical, tongue in cheek songs. The songs are split down the middle between love/lust songs and party songs – going from the upbeat, semi-acoustic single of (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To straight into the slightly distorted, Joy Divison-esque I’m Your Daddy without a moment’s rest. You get fun, carefree party songs like Can’t Stop Partying, In The Mall and Let It All Hang Out mixed alongside Love Is The Answer, I Don’t Want To Let You Go and Put Me Back Together; and all of them, no matter the subject matter, feature Cuomo’s snarky lyrics. While I may admit its rare he comes to the genius turn of phrases that he used on The Blue Album, it’s hard not to smile as you read the lyrics of The Girl Got Hot.

The entire album has a delicate pop balance to it but they still have enough of that classic nerd rock sound to keep the Weezer purists happy. But, like most of their recent albums, Raditude also sees Weezerexpanding on that style and throwing in numerous unexpected influences. Can’t Stop The Partying, which features a guest appearances from Lil Wayne, sounds exactly like what you’d expect a Weezer song to sound like when Lil Wayne is on it – and it is sometimes unnerving to hear Cuomo’s vocals overtop of a severely polished dance music. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the shock of Love Is The Answer which not only sounds like Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire but has a chorus sung partly in Hindu.

This is not Pinkerton or The Blue Album but it doesn’t need to be. A few songs will leave you scratching your head, but it is much more cohesive than The Red Album and features some insanely catchy pop-punk tune tinged with the classic Weezer nerd-rock sound. Chances are any Weezer fan will not be disappointed; and if you are, well they couldn’t care less.

Scarlet Grey - Fancy Blood

Scarlet Grey

Fancy Blood

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

The “single” is a precarious beast.  Bands, managers, and media associates stew over them for months deciding on just what track will afford the right connection with audiences, and ultimately serve as musical ambassador to the masses.  But as I was recently reminded with Los Angeles four piece Scarlet Grey’s current single, “Mr. Sinister,” they can also be misleading.  The single welcomes instant comparison with AFI’s electronic goth side.  Front man Ben Grey projects dark whispering lows and pitchy, cloud-reaching highs, all guided by dark melody and lingering synth notes.  So pick up the accompanying EP,Fancy Blood, and you’d expect the rest to follow suit.

But you’d be mistaken.  Right away the opening track makes out Scarlet Grey as so much more than an AFI imitator.  Imagine my surprise when I fired up “The Sky And I” only to be hit with a jolting combination of AFI meets Angels And Airwaves.  The result feels oddly natural and makes one ponder what took this long for a band to realize this fusion.  “Naomi” follows next and suddenly transforms into a melodic, upstroke-laced pop punk gem, shedding the AVA while maintaining a dark spirit.  Now, the end of the EP provides something closer to what one might expect from “Mr. Sinister,” – “The Sky And I” actually features an appearance by Davy Havok himself and a ton of gloomy synth beats – but even that comes across with a sound unique to Scarlet Grey.

However, Fancy Blood also suffers from a couple recurring ailments.  The first is a production issue.  Like many overproduced albums the band’s bass guitar has almost no punch.  Which is odd, because Fancy Blood isn’t particularly over produced.  Even so, something just feels amiss, ultimately preventing Scarlet Grey from achieving a true richness of character.  Furthermore, the EP also suffers from the occasional generic tune.  “Business Colors” in particular stands as a rather lifeless track, offering very little audio range or inherent excitement.  Thankfully though it’s an exception, with most tracks either taking a more original approach or landing a catchy melody.

So overall, Scarlet Grey understands that to admire AFI isn’t to be them, but to take the elements that excite them, and infuse them with their own unique spin.  Save for a few exceptions, the formula works and results in an EP that goes so much deeper than it’s initial single might suggest.  Check out Fancy Blood if you’re up for an album that’s catchy and inventive.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs! - Show your bones

Yeah Yeah Yeahs!

Show Your Bones

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 2.5/5

 
 

 

 

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one of those bands that every seems to be talking about. Before the release of this album, their name was steadily growing as they became the talk to the underground indie scene. Everyone, fans and critics alike, were promoting the band. But I never got around to sitting down and listening to the trio until the single Gold Lion hit the airwaves. As that song tore up the charts, I started to see what the fuss was about. But sadly, that’s all there is on Show Your Bones, just a lot of fuss.

Because really, Show Your Bones is a singles album. By that, I mean they have a few solid tracks which will be the perfect choice for singles. The songs will blow up from their sheer catchy aspect as everyone will soon be singing along with Karen as the song gets introduced over the radio airwaves. With the excitement of those singles behind them, maybe fans will go and dish out fifteen bucks for the album, only to find that on top of the few hit singles, Show Your Bones is just full of filler.

Sure, songs like Dudley, Fancy and the first single Gold Lion will easily squeeze their way through the crowds to end up in constant rotation, but the other nine tracks are simply filler of epic proportions. Sure, they’re way better than most band’s filler tracks, but they don’t have the fun, catchy attention grabber that those three tracks too. Instead, they come, start, and four minutes later they end without leaving any of an impact at all – and any artist will tell you that’s the worst insult they can get. Even though Dudley was for a long time the “dud” of the album while they recorded it, it made them work on it so much more – which, in turn, transformed it into one of the highlights of the album.

Show Your Bones isn’t a terrible album, but it doesn’t have that hook that the single promised. Instead, the album just plays without leaving any impact other than with a select few songs. You either just play it without paying much attention, or end up skipping some of the songs. I don’t know, maybe if you’ve heard their older stuff you may get something better out of it, but the way I see it, it’s just a lot of fuss.

+44 - When Your Heart Stops Beating

+44

When Your Heart Stops Beating

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

If you ask any of my friends they will say I have a weird memory for dates (I still remember the exact dates of 95% of the concerts I’ve ever been to), and February 22nd 2005 is a date I will remember for a very long time for two reasons. The first and more prominent reason was because that was the day a very close family friend had a stroke and was put into the hospital. The second was because that was the dayBlink-182 announced they were going on an indefinite hiatus, essentially, that they were breaking up. While the former was a more life altering event for me, the latter also signified the end of an era for me. I loved Blink-182, they changed my life in many, many ways and it’s a topic I’ve touched on a few times in the past. When I started hearing news about the various results of the break-up, I was excited. Of course, both bands released new material on the same day and I couldn’t really pick which was my favorite. Tom then went out and released the incredibly over-hyped Angels And Airwaves album, and while it’s good, it was also rather disappointing as it was drowned under the unrealistic expectations along with overly exaggerated intros and outros. A few months later Mark and Tom announced the release date of+44‘s debut, When Your Heart Stops Beating; and when I was finally able to listen to it in it’s entirety, all I could do was stop and say “wow, this is what I needed to hear.”

When I heard the opening tracks, Lycanthrope and Baby Come On, I just sat back and thought about how good it sounded. While it wasn’t absolutely original, it was Mark’s signature vocal style and song writing abilities that stuck out and I just couldn’t stop repeating that this was the album I needed to hear post-Blink182, not an overly ambitious arena-rock record.

Now that’s not to say that this is Blink182 volume two, far from it. While there are distinct similarities, +44 have crafted a sound of their own. Even though it’s not fully electronic as was originally announced,When Your Heart Stops Beating does feature a fair share of electronic effects. Sythn melodies and drum loops take front stage on Little Death (in which Hoppus shows everyone his slightly darker side and very personal lyrics). Slight voice alterations are used to bring his vocals lower to give Weatherman a gloomier and darker feel as they touch on the dissolution of Blink182. Sometimes they sound like Motion City Soundtrack while other tracks could be Blink b-sides, but they’re all distinctly +44. All the songs fit together, they flow and show the many facets of the band, from the more upbeat to the softer tracks and the love songs and dark retrospective tracks.

But as I listen to the album, particularly the end, I can’t help but wonder what +44 would’ve sounded like if Carol Heller had never left the band. I can’t help but feel that No It Isn’t is missing a little touch that her vocals gave to it on the demo version. Her vocals were soft and low in the mix but they brought the song to a new level. And then, there’s Make You Smile, by far the best track on the album, which has Heller trading vocals back and forth with Hoppus. This contrast over the relatively bare music background works perfectly and you can’t help but wonder if that contrast would’ve become boring and repetitive or brought the album to new heights if she had stayed.

But she didn’t, and we are left with that one song to tease us with the thought; and either way, it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day +44 has given me the CD I needed to hear from them, it’s not always the most original but it shows how incredibly talented Hoppus and Barker are. It’s catchy, it’s fun, it’s just a great release.

Video: Frank Turner – Plain Sailing Weather

Frank TurnerUK folk punk troubadour Frank Turner has debuted a brand new video from his upcoming new album.  The video features the song  is titled “Plain Sailing Weather” and will appear on hi his fifth studio album, Tape Deck Heart, due out on April 22nd this year via Interscope. The album was produced and mixed by Rich Costey (Muse, Weezer, Radiohead) and is a follow up to 2011’s ‘England Keep My Bones’.  

Watch the video below.

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Frank Turner – Recovery

Frank TurnerUK folk punk troubadour Frank Turner has debuted a brand new song from his upcoming new album.  The song is titled “Recovery” and will appear on hi his fifth studio album, Tape Deck Heart, due out on April 22nd this year via Interscope. The album was produced and mixed by Rich Costey (Muse, Weezer, Radiohead) and is a follow up to 2011’s ‘England Keep My Bones’.  

Give the song a listen here (region restricted).

Jimmy Eat World - Invented

Jimmy Eat World

Invented

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

love Jimmy Eat World. I’m not an uber-fan like some people who can recite every song by them at a drop of a hat, but I love them. They will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first punk show I ever went to and for delivering some of my all time favourite release. They’re a band that I can pull out whenever I need that a pick up me – something moving, powerful and emotionally stirring. That’s the type of music Jimmy Eat World has consistently delivered over the years.

Sadly, their seventh and newest album, Invented doesn’t have that spark to it. It lacks that emotionally stirring aspect which takes away from the beauty that is Jimmy Eat World.

Not every song falls victim to the lack of emotional pull and when they hit it, they show how they’ve been able to remain a staple in the scene for so long. Coffee And Cigarettes falls softly between Bleed American and Chase This Light with a simplistic but evoking imagery and a rousing chorus. Jim Adkins’ vocals soar in one the higher energy tracks of the album; and if you get the deluxe version you’ll be treated to an acoustic version of the song as well that showcases the softer side of the song.

The seven minute long title track is an epic Jimmy Eat World song in every definition; it’s the song that should have completed the album and pulls on the Clarity era structure. It remains slow and subdued for most of the track with acoustic instrumentation and softly delivered lyrics which are some of the best on the album. Then, out of nowhere, it explodes to a full instrumentation and completely blows the listener away.  Mixtapes follows suit admirably and remains equally impressive with a more pointed delivery and repetitive outro that we’ve come to expect from the band.

Scattered throughout the album – mostly at the start – there’s a few other enjoyable cuts like Evidence, Movielike or the lead single My Best Theory. Despite my generally positive description of the album thus far, there’s a lot of songs that simply don’t live up to the Jimmy Eat World moniker. Even tracks that stand out – like Movielike – pale compare to what they’ve done in the past.

For you see, the album just feels uneven and, in some cases, uninspired. Yes, it grows ever so slowly on you but even after countless listens – it still fails to deliver the same powerful attraction that they’ve previously done. It’s especially disappointing after the phenomenal Chase This Light. Songs like High Devotion (a heavy rocker), Stop (a slower Futures era sounding song) and Cut (a soft acoustic number) never fully capture on their potential. They have moments that shine through but normally fall into background music and rarely features the visual imagery and heartfelt lyrics that evoke the love for the band.

So for every good track, there seems to be one that’s equally as bland; and for every break out track, there’s one that’s simply forgettable.  I’ll still play Jimmy Eat World on a frequent basis but there’s only a few songs here that are strong enough to make it into my heavy rotation while most of it works solely as background music.

Jimmy Eat World - Futures

Jimmy Eat World

Futures

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Jimmy Eat World will always have a special place set aside for them in my heart. It was back in grade 8, right before The Middle started tearing up the airwaves, and Jimmy Eat World were passing through town so I decided to go. That show ended up being the first concert I ever went to. Although I didn’t know all of their catalogue, it is a show that I will never forget, and after the concert I picked up a t-shirt and wore it proudly the next day at school, but it took me a couple of years before I actually got off my lazy ass and bought Bleed American and Clarity (Static Prevails is still missing from my collection, but that hole will hopefully be filled in a couple of weeks). Bleed American was an instant classic in my mind, merging rock and emo together to form a very readily accessible album that I love. Leaning more towards the emo side of things, I loved Clarity as well; but for me, it wasn’t quite as big a standout as their 2001 release. Well, it’s been three years since then, and Jimmy Eat World are back with Futures; and it falls right between Bleed American and Clarity.

Once again merging rock and emo together, Futures is an album which will appeal to most fans and critics alike. For some, it will be an instant pleasure giver, while others will have to listen to it more to really get a feel for it. I am in the latter group. After my first listen, I was slightly disappointed. It was missing that punch which made Bleed American so good. But after more listens, it has grown on me a lot. Still not quiteBleed American, but a very happy medium which will provide me amusement for quite some time.

Jim Adkins vocals are strong and vibrant. Changing from fast hard songs to slow melodic songs with ease, something which Jimmy Eat World have always been able to do. They are able to successfully write and record fast pace songs like Pain and Nothingwrong (which could easily be compared to Get It Faster off Bleed American), to sing along songs like The World you Love, and slow melodic songs likeDrugs or Me and 23. The songs can last over 5, 6, or 7 minutes at times, and you don’t really care. Even though they are so long, they don’t drag on, they are just good. Something which the band showed they could do back on Clarity.

Jimmy Eat World are able to bring together many tempos, structures and beats, throw them all together, and still make an album which flows easily. Many bands try this, but only a rare few succeed, andJimmy Eat World is one of them.

Jimmy Eat World will always have a special place in my heart, and Futures just made that place a little bit bigger. It is a solid album that grows on you, and although its not quite as good as Bleed American, I will still listen to it a lot.

Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light

Jimmy Eat World

Chase This Light

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

With every Jimmy Eat World release that hits the streets, you’re never exactly sure what to expect. On every CD they’ve changed a bit while consistently remaining true to their form. Yes, some old school fans shook off every release since Bleed American, happy to just replay Static Prevails and Clarity until they melt in their CD players, others are continually energized with every new release, savoring the anticipation and the wonder of what will come. Chase This Light is no different and after the release of their first single, Big Casino, expectations were high.

The song captures everything about Jimmy Eat World that needs to be captured within a song: angular guitars with a dream-like quality, emotional and intelligent lyrics and vocals that soar to new heights. If the remaining ten tracks on Chase This Light followed that pattern, then the album would be an easy contender for record of the year.

Jimmy Eat World had different ideas though and instead of following the same pattern of the lead single and opening track, Chase This Light sees Jimmy Eat World progressing once again while still maintaining their signature sound. It may throw the listener off a bit during their first listen, but upon a replay, the album builds and grows in momentum and the sheer beauty of the release begins to shine through and despite it’s variety, it still becomes a contender for record of the year.

While very few sparkling singles in it, the album is easily of one Jimmy Eat World‘s most complete ones. The songs work together in a way that brings the album together more than ever. There’s a definite diversity amongst the songs, from the danceable tracks that give a nod to Bleed American like Feeling Lucky and the surprisingly political Electable (Give It Up) to the five minute acoustic and string balladGotta Be Somebody’s Blues, and yet they’re able to lead into one another without a moment’s rest. Firefight tugs at your heartstrings as one of the best songs on the record and the choruses on Let It Happen and Always Be never leave your mind as Carry You sounds like return to what made them so popular with Clarity/Static Prevails.

The record is held together with a sense of unity from the polished guitar work and Jim Adkins’ perfect vocals – and I mean perfect. With every song he changes them up a bit from the emo-rock delivery of Let It Happen and Big Casino to the epic Dizzy and Firefight and the almost Blaqk Audio similarity of Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues. His vocals are as diverse as the music while never treading too far off as to become out of place. Add in the backup vocals, seamlessly placed “woahs” and occasional contrasting vocals of Amy Ross lightly scattered in the background and the record is near perfection.

Yes, it took a few listens for it to truly sink in, but now there’s no doubt in my mind that Chase This Light is Jimmy Eat World‘s crowning achievement, and with a history such as theirs, that’s definitely saying something.

jamisonparker - sleepwalker

JamisonParker

Sleepwalker

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 2/5

 
 

 

 

You see, there’s this guy. He’s called Parker. Then, there’s this other guy. His name is Jamison. They are good friends, and one day, decided to form a band. They put their imagination together to create the best band name ever, and came up with the phenomenal name of JamisonParker. Clever isn’t it? Well, anyway, a little while ago they released a short EP to relatively good praise. The EP got the band’s foot in the door before they locked themselves away to write and record their debut full length to be released on the major conglomerate Interscope. When they finally resurfaced, they had in their hands a much more professional album, an album they hoped would throw them to the forefront of the emo scene. That CD was Sleepwalker, and really, it came and went without much fuss – either negative or positive.

You see, Sleepwalker‘s eleven songs are neither here nor there. While the duo seems to know what they are doing, most of the songs seem to miss the mark. Jamison’s lyrics are supposed to be heartfelt and profound, yet he doesn’t feel the need to release them in the booklet, instead you have to search for them on the internet. And once you find them, they really aren’t special. While some of them are moving and semi-inventive, there isn’t really anything too special that makes them stick out in the crowd.

But still, it’s not like the album goes by without any impact because there are some very good songs on it. Songs like Slow Suicide and Here’s Everything I’ve Always Meant To Say seem to contain enough emotion to capture the listener’s attention, especially during the infectious choruses. Oddly enough, the highlight of the entire album comes in the form of Paper, Rock, Scissors, which had already seen the light of day through their EP. This song, although still definitely following the slow emo framework, has enough upbeat and poppy melodies for it to actually become catchy. If only the rest of the songs were this energizing rather then being slow and dragged on.

JamisonParker didn’t do too much damage here on Sleepwalker. But when the most inventive name you can come up with is just both first names slammed together, you kind of know the album won’t be too innovative. For the most part, they seem to just be a Jimmy Eat World Clarity-era wanna be with a few odd bright spots breaking through the skyline.

 

The Hives - Tyrannosaurus Hives

The Hives

Tyrannosaurus Hives

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 2.5/5

 
 

 

 

Well, The Hives are back. They’ve been resting for almost a year and a half, writing new songs and getting prepared for the release of this, their third album. It has been almost four whole years since their loyal fans have heard a new album from them. So they have come back with a blast with the release of Tyrannosaurus Hives. Unfortunately, I have never been a fan of The Hives or the whole garage rock genre, so really Tyrannosaurus Hives didn’t appeal to me.

The album starts off strong with two fast paced songs, Abra Cadaver and Two-Timing Touch And Broken Bones. But the rest of the album tends to stay on the same path. Its your basic garage rock, but since I’m not a fan of the genre, I don’t know much about it. Some twangy guitars, the classic vocals by Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, and the old fashion hard rock vibe comes through on Tyrannosaurus Hives. There are a few more songs that I enjoy on it, like Missing Link and Dead Quote Olympics. I tend to lean towards the shorter, faster, harder-hitting songs then the slower, longer tracks. Although, three minutes isn’t incredibly long either.

For me, the best songs would have to be Two-Timing Touch And Broken Bones along with Dead Quote Olympics because they stand out somehow. I can’t really say that I’ll listen to this album often, just because I’m not a fan of the whole garage rock thing. But I do know that any old Hives fan will love this new album and will have no problem listening to it over and over again.

Dredg - Live At The Fillmore

Dredg

Live At The Fillmore

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

When I first heard Dredg a little over a year ago when they released Catch Without Arms I was blown away. I had no idea what to expect when I saw the disc, but I was amazed. Then, a few months later then came to town, sadly it was with the Taste Of Chaos tour; and in all honesty, they were by far the best band of the night. The crowd wasn’t fully into it, but the people who knew them loved them. Now, fast forward a few more months and the band just captured their powerful sound in the live setting and released it to their fans; and so, we are left with Live At The Fillmore, a nineteen track live album from the insanely talented Dredg.

The most important aspect of Live At The Fillmore is the unparallel sound quality. The band sounds amazing, it’s a simple as that. They are successfully able to transport that spacey, atmospheric pop into the live setting, making the listener sail away and get completely engulfed by the band’s music. Like their studio albums, Dredg are able to pull the listener in with the soaring harmonies and breathtaking melodies. Really, the album sounds so good you often forget that it is actually a live album. The only thing that pulls you back into reality is that fact that at times the vocals aren’t as strong as they are in the studio (but those times are few and far between) and then the occasional crowd cheer that they throw in.

While it sounds spectacular, that also takes away from some of the charm of a live album. There is absolutely no banter, other than “hi” and “bye”. Instead, they just play the songs one after another and soften the crowd. In fact, the crowd is pretty much nonexistent during most of the album. They seem to only pull up the crowd in the mix when the music calms down and makes a transitions from track to track. It seems to be used solely to remind you that it is a live cd, because without that you would forget that it is live and instead think of it more as a “best-of” sort of album; which is an accurate description as well as the band does play all their fan favorites.

Personally, the only thing that could make this album more complete would’ve been with the inclusion of Matroska. While yes, they tease us with a glimpse of a slightly recreated version of The Ornament(which is spectacular to hear), I would have loved to hear them lead into that with the soaring Matroska because to me, that song is unmatched.

If you’ve never heard of Dredg, this will be a nice introduction to them as they sound great and play their best songs but in reality, if you’ve never heard of them a live CD won’t be the first CD you buy from them. For Dredg fans though, this is a nice “best-of” collection. It doesn’t have that live charm that most live albums carry, but it’s a solid collection of tracks and it’s nice to hear the songs slightly re-worked too.

Dredg - Catch Without Arms

Dredg

Catch Without Arms

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

When I saw this CD, I had no idea what to think. I had only read the name in a few e-mails, and even that didn’t register for a few days. There was no bio sheet that came with the release and I had no clue what they would sound like. So when I finally got around to putting Catch Without Arms in my CD player to listen to it, I had no expectations and it’s easy enough to say that Dredg blew me away instantly.

Think Muse or …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead, and you could picture Dredg easily. Although it’s only a quartet, these guys have an immense sound. Atmospheric and spacey prog-rock laced with a sense of grandeur. The vocals are distinctivelyMuse like, dragged out and solid with a soft, eerie feel to them that are able to pick up and be strong and harsher if the moment arises. Songs likeOde To The Sun, Catch Without Arms, Real Sang and the phenomenal Matroshka (The Ornament) make the listener stop in their tracks and pay attention to the songs. They captivate you and pull you into the surroundings of majestic harmonies and breathtaking melodies, all topped off with intriguing and and inventive drawings by cookieclock.

These guys also know how to put pen to paper with lyrics like “I’m A Local But A Foreigner. Still The Addict Yet I’m Sober. Still The Body With The Coroner. Many Friends Yet Still A Loner.” or “I was looking down at you/Smiling up at me/For once I held you tight/but shadowed hands grabbed at me/Your head was in the clouds/but now the clouds are in your head/That’s when you needed me so I listened to what you said.” They are always simple and direct, but get the job done and make you think a bit and take a second look at the lyrics page.

I really don’t see me getting bored of this album anytime soon, especially of Matroshka. It is just a solid album all the way through. Slow, moving, and emotional music with a atmospheric feel. I wasn’t expecting much and was blown away, I’m sure you will be too. Any fans of Muse have to check it out.

 

Chronic Future - Lines In My Face

Chronic Future

Lines In My Face

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 2.5/5

 
 

 

 

I’ve had this album for a couple weeks now and I’ve been trying to find ways to describe it. But all I found was a major case of writer’s block. After listening to Chronic Future‘s Lines In My Face countless times, I still have no idea what to say about it. All reviewers feel this way once in a while, and it sure does become a bit annoying.

Chronic Future is pretty much impossible to categorize. They are unlike any other band out there, merging the lines between alternative, rock, emo, and hip-hop. Each song is different from the other. It could be high energy one, to soft and slow the next. The vocals are a mix between fast, hip-hop genre vocals along with more rock or pop-punk like. Sometimes they are layered over one another, which makes for a nice sound and a slight change from the regular pattern of the song. All of this creates a nice diversity, but still doesn’t do anything to really push the songs. The melodies would be best described as slightly alternative, as they don’t really follow any form whatsoever. Even though they do so much, nothing really grabs you. The songs seem to drag on, especially the final track Say Good-bye, and, although there’s no way you can say it is repetitive, it seems to be a bit boring. There is an odd track here and there that stands out a bit, like Stop Pretending, Static On The Radio, and Time And Time Again.

Chronic Future‘s Liens In My Face is a mediocre album. Although they try a lot of new things on the CD, nothing is done extremely well. Its kind of boring as nothing really sticks out through out the entire CD.

Brand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

Brand New

The Devil & God Are Raging Inside Me

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

When Brand New came out with their sophomore record three years ago, it was all anybody was talking about. Wherever you looked, they were praising and raising Deja Entendu to the rafters, it seemed like everyone and their mother’s dog was in love with Jesse Lacey and his Long Island brethren. But other than the absolutely phenomenal Okay, I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t, I was incredibly bored with almost every other track on the release and couldn’t comprehend why it was received so much praise. Although, over the three year break between Deja Entendu and their follow up, The Devil & God Are Raging Inside Me, certain tracks on Deja Entendu started to grow on me and as the hyped started to build I grew some slight anticipation for the record. When I finally sat down and listened to it, I could finally see the appeal of Brand New and while they’re not quite worthy of all the hype they get, I can understand why they get it too.

For you see, the songs on here that are good tend to be more than just good, but instead are pretty much amazing. Why are they amazing? The answer is pretty much because of Lacey’s passionate and unique vocal delivery. His delivery is almost impossible to be coined as “singing” as he pretty much just speak-sings everything, but it works more than all the blood curling screams that are clogging the airwaves these days ever could. They are passionate, soulful and fix the spacious musical backdrop perfectly. The little spontaneous aspects like the stutter on Jesus Christ help to secure the power of the words in your mind, making it so you remember every word even though they forgo the regular verse-chorus-verse song format.

That, in a way, is another aspect of Lacey’s skill that impresses me so much; his spectacular lyrical powers (which makes it a shame that the the lyrics don’t come with the booklet). The album sees Lacey battling with demons inside himself (hence the title) and he really hits the religious aspects right on the mark. Jesus Christ sees him battling with the idea of mortality and the after-life (Well Jesus Christ, I’m not scared to die/ I’m a little bit scared of what comes after/ Do I get the gold chariot?/ Do I float through the ceiling?/Do I divide and fall apart?) while Millstone has Lacey reflecting on his life and the changes that has happened (I used to make my parents proud./ I was the glue that kept my friends together,/ Now they don’t talk and we don’t go out.) And Limousine (MS Rebridge)? Well that’s just a great love song. His lyrics are amazing, and with the way he spits them out at you, you’re just left in awe.

At the same time, while the ups are up high, the downs on this album are equally as low. While the sparse, spacious melodies help take Brand New to a level of their own, it can also become stale and stagnant after the fifth five minute track. With many of the tracks having stretched out outros, there’s no need for two instrumentals; and when Lacey loses his passionate touch on a few songs (Luca), they just become boring and long. It is during those short instances that I remember why I left Deja Entendu in it’s CD case for so much of the past three years.

Luckily though, the highs more than out number the lows; and Jesus Christ is almost on par with the awesomeness that is Okay, I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t. The CD is far from great, but it is good, and it’s incredibly evident as to why they get so much hype.

Brand New - Daisy

Brand New

Daisy

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Brand New are a band that completely and utterly disregard normal musical conventions. They pay no heed to expectations of what they should or shouldn’t do and because of that they’ve had one hell of a career thus far.

With each passing release, the band has evolved and pushed their sound barriers even wider – eschewing all possible genre classifications and nomenclature. They’re no longer the pop-punk band that releasedYour Favorite Weapon in 2001; in fact, they weren’t that Brand New by the time they released Deja Entendu in 2003. From Deja Entendu to The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me they became even more desolate, depressing and and morose; but somehow it all worked. Now you should feel free to throw any expectations you may have for their fourth album, Daisy, right out of the window because there’s no way those expectations will be right.

Right from the starting gate Daisy sees Brand New heading in a new direction. Vices begins with a piano and a female singer softly singing overtop before it abruptly stops and turns into a post-hardcore song. Yes, a post-hardcore song with raspy Dennis Lyxzén’s influenced screams, disjointed riffs and distortion galore. This is no longer your older brother’s Brand New.

But alas, by the next track they’ve jumped ship again as Bed sounds like a cut from Devil and God with Jesse Lacey’s vocals returning back to his almost whispery delivery. It’s an eerie song that comes right before they pick up the pace with the lead single At The Bottom; a track that see them returning to their Deja Entendu phase with a stronger bass line and moderately (very moderately) upbeat tempo.

Of course, Gasoline throws all expectations into the wind again with heavy distortion and feedback and Be Gone is a short, minute and a half country-tinged song. Topped with echoey, indecipherable lyrics,Be Gone defies all convention smashed between the second longest track, You Stole, and the post-hardcore explosion of Sink.

The record is full of little changes, from vastly different tempos to the inclusion of numerous song clips in Daisy and Noro. All of it turns Daisy into a very unconventional album, with desolate lyrics and songs that are able to differentiate them from the masses. It may not be what you expected, but it is Brand New and it does grow on you.

Blaqk Audio - Cex Cells

Blaqk Audio

Cex Cells

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

CexCells is like Boxcar Racer while not being remotely similar to it. You may be asking yourself exactly what I mean by that, well, I’ll explain it for you…

You see, when Boxcar Racer released their first (and only) album a few years ago, it’s main selling point was the simple fact that it’s main members were from Blink182. That, right there, guaranteed it a well sized fan base right from the starting gate. Blaqk Audio‘s debut, CexCells, is like that in the way that it is the side project of Davey Havoc and Jade Pugnet of AFI. So, like Boxcar Racer, you can safely assume that CexCells will sell rather well off the starting gates as every AFI fan excitedly tries to hear anything with Davey’s voice on it. It is different than Boxcar Racer though because instead of staying in the same genre, CexCells deviates vastly from the punk sound going for something all together different.

Instead of the Misfits-esque goth punk, Blaqk Audio is a nod to the members’ other influences from the eighties and nineties – those electronic/new wave artists like Depeche Mode and Joy Division. The sad thing is that I don’t know much about the whole new wave genre as it came and went way before I was remotely interested in music. This means I can’t accurately compare it to the bands Havoc and Pugnet are trying to emulate – and I’m fairly certain many of AFI‘s younger fans will fall into the same boat as me.

Despite that though, I can plainly say that while I don’t see who the band is nodding to, CexCells is still an impressive electronic/new wave release. The music pulsates through the speakers, making it the perfect record to blast in a club or to hear through headphones. Jade Pugnet’s melodies and strong and dark, very gloomy and technical and really carries the music forward. The sound is very complex and full of different effects and beats making it so that the songs don’t run together nor do they become tiresome – even on the five minute long tracks.

However, the element that will be dissected the most though is definitely Havoc’s vocals. Techno purists will say that he ruins the song as he sings in his signature style and doesn’t always follow Pugnet’s beat. Conversely, it is those very vocals that AFI fans will devour and love because he’s able to add an extra layer of darkness to the songs that would otherwise be lacking and that wouldn’t be properly conveyed if they went with a different style.

So while I can’t claim to completely understand the album or be able to decipher all the bands Blaqk Audio are paying homage to, I can say I really like the record. Songs like On A Friday, The Love Letter, Bitter For Kittens and Semiotic Love are all worthy of multiple plays and nothing could beat just zoning out and blasting this through some headphones. However, I think people who were more into the wholeDepeche Mode /Joy Division style will find more within CexCells than I was able to.

... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead - Worlds Apart

... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead

Worlds Apart

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 2/5

 
 

 

 

For me, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead‘s Worlds Apart is very similar to Brand New‘s Deja Entendu. When Deja Entendu was released, and even before hand, it received tons of press and was labeled to be one of the best albums of the year by hundreds of critics and fans alike. And I found it boring. This is the same thing that’s happening with Worlds Apart. It may not be as widely spread, but every review I’ve read has showered it with praise. Even Rolling Stone called it “a heroic monster of an album.”

When I listen to it, I can’t see all the hype. The album opens up with Ode To Isis, a moving introduction with a choir chanting “Isis! Horus! Ra!” (Names of three Egyptians God). This introduction gives you a good idea of what to expect from the album. For the most part it is a slow, melodic album, driven by piano melodies with a choir and orchestra backing them up. It is a very large sound, and would probably be hard to reproduce live.

Although I can see the slight appeal the album would have for some people, I still find it somewhat boring and monotonous. It seems to just drag on, with nothing ever changing or really standing out. The one song that really sticks out is Worlds Apart, as it doesn’t follow the structure of any of the other tracks. It is a more energetic song with much stronger vocals and quicker harmonies. Overall, it is definitely the standout track of the entire album.

The most impressive thing of the album is the artwork. It doesn’t follow any guideline and each page is unique, but other then that, the album is pretty forgettable and even somewhat boring.

 

... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead - So Divided

... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead

So Divided

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 2.5/5

 
 

 

 

… And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead‘s last album, Worlds Apart, pretty much slipped under my radar. Other than a select few tracks, I found it pretty boring and monotone, I just couldn’t get into it. Now, with their follow up, So Divided, I can’t help but feel that they’ve maintained the same appeal but have been able to improve quite a lot as well.

Like it’s predecessor, So Divided starts off with a solid introduction that leads into the album nicely as it starts off almost completely silent and slowly builds up as more voices and conversations come into the mix until it erupts in anticipation and Trail jumps into their first proper song of the album, Stand In Silence which builds of the energy of the introduction perfectly. The song s harder and louder than most Trailsongs and reminded me a lot of Worlds Apart from the last album. So far, the album was sounding great, and I started thing that my doubts were misplaced. Sadly, throughout the rest of the album my opinion on the album continually swapped sides.

The album seems to fluctuate constantly. There would be a great song, then a good one, another good one, a very bland one, and then a good one and a few more bland ones. While there’s never a truly horrible track, at times it seems to truly lack a much needed consistency. There does tend to be more enjoyable tracks than passable ones, even the enjoyable ones can begin to drag after a while.

There still seems to be something very distinctive about their sound that keeps me coming back to So Divided though. The songs are always built on a very basic structure with a constant melody and are normally led by the vocals. And despite it being so bare, the tracks often seem grandiose. This gives it a wonderful effect of spaciousness and all consuming power, but at the same time can backfire because it is just too far fetched. More often then not the songs are built off of the same line of lyrics being repeated numerous times, over and over again until it gets permanently slammed into your memory banks. Once again this effect makes the song seem more spacious somehow, particularly on Wasted State Of Mind and Cold Hard Mountain Top Queen Directory (the two highlights of the album).

After all of this, I’m still completely torn on this album and Trail of The Dead. It’s good, they are incredible musicians and there are some very entertaining cuts on the album; but at the same time the album drags on too long. It fluctuates and rarely maintains a solid flow, and while you can listen to it numerous times in a row, at the end of the day there isn’t enough substance to keep you coming back to it.

AFI - I Heard A Voice [DVD]

AFI

I Heard A Voice [DVD]

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 4.5/5

 
 

 

 

After releasing 7 albums, AFI finally released a live DVD that happens to showcase their largest headlining concert to date. Playing at Long Beach Arena in front of around 15,000 fans, AFI manage to deliver near flawless rendition’s of many fan favourite tracks from Decemberunderground and Sing The Sorrow with a couple tracks from older albums to please dedicated longtime fans too. I don’t consider myself a huge AFI fan but I enjoy some of their songs and was impressed with Decemberunderground, however after being stunned by “I Heard A Voice“, I have a deeper appreciation for the band. From the opening notes of “Prelude 12/21” to the last gasping breath in “Miss Murder” each member of the band give their all in a very dramatic and thrilling show.

It all begins with the stage covered by a large white sheet with a single bright light emitting from behind the sheet to reveal the silhouette of Davey Havok as he sings the opening lines to “Prelude 12/21″. Holding the crowd in anticipation a scream erupts as the sheet drops to reveal Jade, Adam and Hunter all dressed in white on stage in front of leafless trees covered in white lights complimented by spotlights that swirl and bounce on stage parallel to the feel of the music. Visually AFI have nailed it. They perfectly create diverse moods to accompany each song using lighting, stage props and a large video screen that accentuates what’s being played. The visuals are really engaging to watch while the band members energetically perform astounding performances of nearly every fans favourite songs. I was really blown away by how good each song sounds, from the drums to the vocals and even the slight guitar and bass effects that I’ve never noticed on the album versions, everything is executed soundly while retaining a raw live feel. This is all filmed in high quality with camera angles and shots that capture the intensity as they highlight each member of AFI while flashing to the audience screaming each lyric right back. Subtle camera tricks such as slow motion and a layering effect are also used throughout the show adding a nice touch to the already artistic stage presentation. The producers have done a fantastic job and “I Heard A Voice” is AFI‘s live show captured in it’s full glory.

I’d have to say, this is one of the most impressive concert DVD’s I have seen. Davey Havok is a very dramatic frontman and displays his emotions boldly in front of very effective lighting and props. He rarely speaks to the crowd through the 18 song set but holds the audience in his hand with his stage presence and powerful performance. I can’t recommend this DVD highly enough to anyone at all who likes AFI. It’s a very illustrative presentation and a full show that really needs to be seen as well as heard, and one that can be watched over and over. The sound, the visuals, the filming, the editing and the presentation.. It’s all awe-inspiring.

Highlights And Extra’s
Short interviews with band members and Despair Faction members
Photo Collage with fans (really small pictures you’ll need a bigscreen to see them)
Easter Egg : 4 eerie short films featuring members of AFI (they don’t make any sense to me)
Guest apearance by Nick 13 of Tiger Army on A Single Second
Snow falling in Love Like Winter (It’s actually paper but it looks awesome)
Davey Havok possible mistake on Silver And Cold (2nd chorus near the end he lets out a yelp at the end of a note)

AFI - I Heard A Voice - Live From Long Beach Arena

AFI

I Heard A Voice - Live From Long Beach Arena

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

I Heard A Voice – Life From Long Beach Arena came as a bit of a surprise to most people. Despite the well known status of the band, no one knew about the band’s decision to release a live album until a few weeks before the record actually hit stores. You would have thought that whispers of the release would have made it’s way through to the internet, but they didn’t (or if they did, I certainly missed it). In a way though, it makes sense that AFI would be able to release the live album without much information being leaked; after all, I Heard A Voice was already completed and released in a different format close to a year ago.

You see, I Heard A Voice is the CD companion to last December’s DVD of the same name. Only, instead of a video documentation of the night of the band’s largest headlining show to date, it is the sonic documentation of the evening. This means that anyone who had decided to steer clear of the DVD release due to a lack or love for the format can now bring the same performance home in CD form instead while anyone who owns or has seen the DVD will know exactly what they’re getting with the album.

What they are getting is a perfectly recorded AFI live show; and when I say perfectly recorded, I mean it. The production of the album is fantastic. Everything fits into the mix seamlessly, the audio is crystal clear and every element of the band’s performance is evenly leveled as if it was a studio recording. That’s not saying it sounds overly produced or that it doesn’t sound like a live album, far from it. I Heard A Voicesuccessfully fits the crowd participation into the record, something that many live albums fail to do – Sum41 and Against Me!‘s recent live albums being two prime examples of that failure. The crowd’s singing voices can be heard alongside Havoc’s vocals while little comments like “I Love You!” can also be heard faintly in the background on songs like This Time Imperfect.

As far as song selection goes, the band tends to stick to songs from Decemberunderground and Sing The Sorrow since the show was in support of the former record. Conversely, they do have a select few older cuts too. On top of the staples songs like God Called In Sick Today from Black Sails In The Sunset and The Days Of The Phoenix from The Art Of Drowning, they also pull in the help from Nick 13 (Tiger Army) for A Single Second off of Shut Your Mouth & Open Your Eyes. Other than that though, the remaining fifteen songs are split between the band’s last two albums; so if you’re gonna pick up the release make sure you’ve accepted the band’s new direction.

Sonically, this is easily one of the most impressive live albums I’ve heard in a very long time. It loses some points for the fact that it’s already been released in DVD form but chances are I’ll listen to this more than I would watch the DVD, so that’s only a slight negative which leaves you with only two things to consider when buying I Heard A Voice: 1) Do I like live CDs? (many people don’t) and 2) do I likeDecemberunderground and Sing The Sorrow? If the answer to both of those are yes, then pick it up; if the answer to either of them is no, then leave it on the self and move on to something else.

AFI - Decemberunderground

AFI

Decemberunderground

Interscope Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

A bunch of my friends hate change. They hate evolution in a band’s music. They want to hear the band come out with the same album they released in their “glory years” – and yet, they get tired of listening to the same album over and over again and complain when a band releases a new CD with songs that sound exactly the same as their old stuff. It really makes no sense. So of course, they bitch, moan and complain about Decemberunderground – and yet they’ll still listen to it constantly, wear the band’s shirts and call them the greatest band of all time. But until the day they die, they’ll always say this CD sucks and will never understand why a band needs to change and evolve between albums. Not only to keep themselves happy, but to be true to the fans who would easily hear it if the band was cheating them and just spitting out the same songs that they did on the last album. The fact is, AFI have evolved, and once you accept that, you will hear a great album.

Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of AFI – I like their stuff when I hear it, I’m excited to see them live in a month, and I like quite a few of their songs, but to say I know every song in their back catalog would be a complete and total lie. But still, I know the general theme behind the band, and somehow, Decemberunderground is exactly what I thought it would be. And oddly enough, the one song that would probably fit into the band’s back catalogue easiest, and the only track my friends claim to like, is probably the one track that is most misplaced on the entire album. The harder Kill Caustic shows that Havoc can still belt out some screams in the vein of Atreyu, but it just doesn’t fit in the album spectrum. In fact, the Green Day-esque single seems more appropriate here.

The songs are more technical then before, songs like Love Like Winter are covered in a heavily affected guitars, and while it seems like it could be horrible, it works so well you can’t get it out of your head.37mm sounds almost electronic at one point while the five minute long Affliction ends with a girl talking over a repeated melody, and even though people complain about the length and calling it “boring” – it fits the album perfectly and is far from boring. It is more epic and in touch with the more technical and experimental side that the band has shown on Decemberunderground. That’s not saying they’re stuck to super long epics either as they spit out the two and a half minute Love Like Winter and the phenomenal minute thirty opener, Prelude 12/21 – who’s drumming/clapping pattern leads the listener into the album in the best way possible.

It’s evident that the songs aren’t nearly as rough as the band’s older material. It’s not as quick, nor as choppy, and raw. Instead, it’s more produced, slicker and smoother – very different from the times of Shut Your Mouth & Open Your Eyes. It suits the band now and when it all comes down to it, half of AFI‘s old fans will bitch and complain about this album – I know a handful of my friends do. But the fact of the matter is this, in one month AFI are coming to town and each and everyone one of those complainers are already lining up to buy tickets. They will go to the show and sing along to every lyric – new and old. They will dance and have the best night of the summer and talk about the show for months afterwards. They will still complain about Decemberunderground but somewhere deep inside them they will understand that it was the natural progression the band needed to take – to spit out the same album would just be cheating everyone. They will wait for the band’s next album, to then complain and say how much better Decemberunderground was. Because after all, in the punk scene, it’s a circle of hate with a inner layer of love for everything you claim to hate. I mean, if you claim to like everything, where’s your scene cred?