Paramore: Self titled album

paramore self titled album

Paramore have just released their self-titled fourth album. After several years of uncertainty in the band, with two members leaving and not being sure of the group’s path, Paramore is back with an album which fully embraces their new lineup and outlook on the future. The first album without founding members and brothers guitarist and drummer Josh and Zac Farro, Paramore has now whittled down to three members, with Ilan Rubin filling in the for the band on drums. Hayley Williams on vocals, Taylor York on guitar, and Jeremy Davis on bass have experimented with ukulele’s, gospel choirs, glockenspiel’s, and good pop songs to make this album their most positive to date.  The album is an over an hour long, making it the band’s longest release, and due to its timing, the band wants to express their joy and have the audience feel it, and feel it you do.

The album’s opening song “Fast In My Car”, is an in your face tune that speaks of the band going “through the wringer a couple of times”, and embracing the group’s new lineup with hope and positivity that hasn’t been before. As an opening number, the track is the first mid tempo song that has opened a Paramore album, which is a welcome change from the usual fast punk beats that make up Paramore’s catalogue. “Ain’t It Fun” brings in a gospel choir and horns, another first, but it works out perfectly. The tune’s euphoric vibe invites listeners to sing along and enfold all that is good with the bands future. The choir is also a highlight which adds to the songs lively feel.

While the record is full of mid tempo tunes, the band heads back to their roots, by throwing in “Anklebiters” a fast paced song that has distortion, a bright guitar riff, and shouts of “anklebiters” throughout the song, as well as a few laughs from the band once it ends. While it is not nearly as memorable as the other tracks, it breaks up the musical feel of the record and brings in some familiarity.  “Still Into You” is the album’s second single and is a straight forward love song about loving someone in the worst of times. The song is bouncy with a guitar part that carries the song and supports the drums and vocals with great fluidity. While Paramore won’t please the band’s critics, their fans will love it as they finally have a record from a band that is no longer broken, but a band that has emerged from their soap opera intact.

The Strokes: Comedown Machine

the-strokes_comedown-machine

The Strokes have just released their latest album Comedown Machine, a record full of pop and disco influenced tracks. Based in New York City, the group formed in 2001, and has had continued success throughout their career, while honing their garage rock sound to perfection.  However, Comedown Machine is not your typical garage rock record; it is so much more than that. The opening song One Way Trigger is a catchy opening number that fuses disco and rock together that will grab the listener’s attention with the bouncy drum beat and the clean, bright guitar part that paints a vivid preview for the remaining songs on the record. 80’s Comedown Machine is another crowd pleaser and definite single material, as the group heads more towards their typical indie rock sound. The only complaint about this tune would have to be lead singer Julian Casablancas, who seems to be straining his vocal chords at times in order to give off a more gritty rock and roll edge to the track. With the song sounding like it was recorded in a garage, it will give old fans a familiar taste of previous records.

Subsequently after giving fans a dose of adrenaline, the record slows down a bit with 50/50 which brings in an electronic influence that is different from the rest of the songs. 50/50 sounds very bland and has an odd presence, considering that Comedown Machine is The Strokes best album of the bands career so far. After listening to several colorful tunes, this song could be labeled as filler for an otherwise good album. Partners In Crime is an 80’s sounding tune, going heavy on the synths, but still heading in a positive direction for the band.

For music fans that were not fond of The Strokes before this release, Comedown Machine may convince them of The Strokes undeniable talent for writing catchy songs that have substance and quantity.

Crowe: Self titled album

crowe-ep-cover

Crowe, a rock band from Burlington, Canada has released their self-titled independent debut, produced by the band. The invigorating thing about Crowe’s first album is how raw it sounds. Refraining from studio staples such as auto tune, pro tools and other studio magic, what the listener gets is four guys in a studio playing music because they enjoy it, not because they are trying to make a quick buck.

The first song, “Satellite,” sounds similar to Dinosaur Jr’s record Beyond, with wailing guitars and pounding drums that have no frills attached. The vocals in “Satellite” are strong, though without much range, but serve the purpose in a hard-hitting rock song. Songs like “Charms” begin with a punch-in-the-face guitar riff that causes people to take notice of what Crowe has to offer musically—a feel good rock record ideally suited for a lazy afternoon with a beer in hand.

Songs like “Troubadour” have more of a garage band sound, with its fuzzy guitars and rougher vocals. “Troubadour” gets a bit lazy once the chorus hits, as if the band could use an energy drink, but still shows off the rock and roll riffs that drive the album as a whole.

Despite the weaker track, Crowe is slowing climbing the ladder when it comes to success—they have been included on playlists for local radio stations in their native Canada. Hopefully with continued airplay, Crowe will see success in the United States and beyond. You can download Crowe for free via crowetunes.bandcamp.com.

The Men: New Moon

the men new moon cover

The Men, a punk band from Brooklyn have released their latest album New Moon. While it has an interesting mix of songs ranging from country to loud hard hitting rock, ultimately the effort falls flat, mainly due to a lack of direction. The album’s first track Open The Door, is a soft country tune that will make fans of the band question what happened in the year since they released Open Your Heart, full of fast punk songs the band is known for.  While it is okay for a band to share their ideas and to try and make a new path, they should provide listeners with a sense of direction, which is something New Moon is lacking. By opening with a country song and then heading into a noisy rock tune the path leading to a cohesive album seems scattered and disjointed.

Without A Face is a dancy track that adds in a harmonica into the midst of trying to play fast attention grabbing music, making it seem like the group pieced together ideas for a song without any organization. While this song has a thumping bass line to drive the song, by the time the song ends, the band might as well be out of breath, since speed seems to be more important than being able to play well.

While the band seems to enjoy quantity over quality on New Moon, the real gem on the record is a slow country ballad titled High and Lonesome. The calming song leans towards the softer sounds heard on Open The Door and shows immense musical ability. However, the soothing mood is short lived, with the closing tune Supermoon taking another sharp turn back to the noise, hastening the need for an Advil to get through the song. While previous releases by The Men seem to have been focused on quality, New Moon is tremendously lacking in quality. By the time their next album comes around hopefully The Men will get back to playing punk rock music which is what they do best.

Jimi Hendrix: People, Hell, and Angels

jimi hendrix people hell and angels

Creative and musical genius are two ways to describe not only Jimi Hendrix’s talent but also to describe what you hear on People, Hell, and Angels. The last of twelve posthumous releases, this latest material will cause listeners to wonder “what if”, concerning Jimi and his highly successful music career.  The tunes on People, Hell, and Angels were recorded shortly before his premature death from a drug overdose at the age of 27.

Songs such as “Let Me Move You”, featuring saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood is an R&B number where Jimi’s vocals could be compared to Little Richard. While Hendrix was always insecure about his singing ability, it shines here as he makes listeners feel the music through the vocals which sounds like it should be a long jam session. Musically, you can feel the heart that Jimi put into each recording, through his throaty vocals, and abstruse guitar parts.

“Hey Gypsy Boy” is an experimentation through different guitar techniques and shows the depth of Hendrix’s talent by using different sounds to create a cohesive musical sound, as only Hendrix can, by using the guitar as a form of expression. “Earth Blues” shows that Jimi has a knack for coming up with opening riffs that repeatedly hooks the listener into the rest of the tune, and serves as a preface to the guitar pyrotechnics that follows.

After listening to People, Hell, and Angels it is too bad that this is the last of unreleased Jimi Hendrix material, since one can only wonder about the progression of his music and what he might have gone on to do musically. While the world will no longer have new Jimi Hendrix music, at least his fans will still get from this new album taste of an enormous talent who passed on to early.

Steven Wilson: The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)

the raven who refused to sing and other stories cover

Steve Wilson, guitarist and front man of the progressive rock band Porcupine Tree has released his third solo album titled “The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories.)” The Raven… is an album that brings together funk, rock, and chunks of jazz to illustrate a story of ghosts, sorrow, regret and death through song. The first track Luminol begins with a funk bass line, reminiscent of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The song’s lyrics which were inspired by a man who is a busker that performs his music on a street corner, no matter the weather, moves from funk to rock effortlessly, taking the audience through a maze of different sounds.

The next track titled Drive Home, focuses on a man who cannot deal with the reality of his wife’s death, so he is under the illusion that his spouse is still alive and sitting next to him while he is driving home.  The song begins with a somber guitar part, with drums and strings bringing in a wave of emotion that compliments the dark aura of the song.

The sixth and final track on the record is The Raven That Refused To Sing. Telling a story about a man who has reached old age, he comes across a raven as he is waiting to pass on. He believes this raven to be a symbol of his sister’s presence, as she used to sing to him during their childhood when he was fearful, which had a calming effect on him.  The piano, which is a the main focus on the song is fitting in illustrating the loss the man has felt, as well as coming to terms with his old age.

Steven Wilson does a brilliant job of weaving each song together so that the audience can become engrossed in the story, as the music allows you to feel each emotion that the song represents. While the lyrics aid in telling the story, it is the music that does the telling. Even for those who are not familiar with Porcupine Tree’s music, Wilson’s latest creation is highly enjoyable, as it truly brings out a mad scientist in music with the endless flow of creativity that The Raven That Refuses To Sing (And Other Stories) gives us.

Steven Wilson: The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)

the raven who refused to sing and other stories cover

Steve Wilson, guitarist and front man of the progressive rock band Porcupine Tree has released his third solo album titled “The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories.)” The Raven… is an album that brings together funk, rock, and chunks of jazz to illustrate a story of ghosts, sorrow, regret and death through song. The first track Luminol begins with a funk bass line, reminiscent of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The song’s lyrics which were inspired by a man who is a busker that performs his music on a street corner, no matter the weather, moves from funk to rock effortlessly, taking the audience through a maze of different sounds.

The next track titled Drive Home, focuses on a man who cannot deal with the reality of his wife’s death, so he is under the illusion that his spouse is still alive and sitting next to him while he is driving home.  The song begins with a somber guitar part, with drums and strings bringing in a wave of emotion that compliments the dark aura of the song.

The sixth and final track on the record is The Raven That Refused To Sing. Telling a story about a man who has reached old age, he comes across a raven as he is waiting to pass on. He believes this raven to be a symbol of his sister’s presence, as she used to sing to him during their childhood when he was fearful, which had a calming effect on him.  The piano, which is a the main focus on the song is fitting in illustrating the loss the man has felt, as well as coming to terms with his old age.

Steven Wilson does a brilliant job of weaving each song together so that the audience can become engrossed in the story, as the music allows you to feel each emotion that the song represents. While the lyrics aid in telling the story, it is the music that does the telling. Even for those who are not familiar with Porcupine Tree’s music, Wilson’s latest creation is highly enjoyable, as it truly brings out a mad scientist in music with the endless flow of creativity that The Raven That Refuses To Sing (And Other Stories) gives us.