Monday, May 28, 2012

The Bombpops: Like I Care/Stole the TV (Review)

Playing loud, fast, and hard skate punk in the vein of early Bad Religion and The (late great) Soviettes, The Bombpops make some of the most infectious punk rock music with female vocals since…well The (late great) Soviettes. Frontwomen Jen Raz and Poli Van Dam not only thrash their six strings faster than most skate punk veterans, they sing better than most of them as well. With well-crafted and well-executed songs that you can bounce AND mosh to, their debut EPs Like I Care and Stole the TV will be looked back fondly upon one day as the hard core-ish humble beginnings of what just might be the next, hopefully long lived, great skate punk bands.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Slash: Apocalyptic Love (featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators) (Review)

In addition to serving up the thick, juicy, and blues dipped guitar sounds that he’s been a master of since his days in Guns n’ Roses, Slash has finally found a voice with the ability to keep up with his guitar playing on Apocalyptic Love. Myles Kennedy, formerly of The Mayfield Four and Alter Bridge, while not necessarily sounding like Axl Rose, definitely displays the vocal chops that Axl employed that rounded out Slash and Guns n’ Roses’ overall sound and package. Not only does Kennedy’s voice mesh with Slash’s guitar playing better than anyone since Axl’s did (including Scott Weiland’s), he also brings some newfound cred to Slash, showcasing him as more than just a party time rock guitarist. Kennedy’s lyrics, while not quite being poetry, harken back to some of the more thematically strong Guns n’ Roses song lyrics from Use Your IllusionI and II, without the stupid cussing and whining. It’s easy to forget that this is a Slash “solo album” instead of the birth of a new and exciting band that has the potential to easily leave what Velvet Revolver did in the dust. That’s how strong Myles Kennedy’s contribution to Slash’s album is.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Covers (Review)

Culled from exclusive official bootleg releases, various B-Sides, and special tribute contributions spanning decades, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Covers is as fun to listen to as it is bittersweet. The EP contains Chili Pepper covers of “Teenager in Love” by Dion and The Belmonts, “Havana Affair” by The Ramones, “Search and Destroy” by The Stooges, “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (live)” by Neil Young, “I Get Around (live)” by The Beach Boys, and “Suffragette City” by David Bowie. The songs are fun because we get to hear all of these (some rarely available anywhere else) great covers in one place. The songs are bittersweet because on some of them, particularly “Teenager in Love,” which originally appeared as a B-Side to the “By The Way” single, John Frusciante’s voice and guitar playing is very evident. Nothing against their new guitar player, Josh Klinghoffer, who is great in his own right,  but the Chili Peppers were and always will be considered to be at their peak when Frusciante was in the fold.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Garbage: Not Your Kind of People (Review)

Legendary producer Butch Vig’s techno-rock band Garbage is one of best produced and unique sounding bands recording right now, mostly because no one else sounds like them. Their edgy alt-rock cred is long gone though. In fact, they are not even considered “alt” anything anymore, just as any band that might remotely sound like them in any way would not be considered alt anymore. There really isn’t an “alt” rock tag that is viable these days. Mostly, anything that is “alternative” (at least according to iTunes) has nothing in common with Garbage, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, or any of the old “alt” 90s bands. Browse the “alternative” page of iTunes and you’ll see bands like The Decemberists, Jack White, The Black Keys and Keane. Yes, Garbage is still listed as an “alternative” band in iTunes, but c’mon, really? So, to hell with the tags, the rock camps, and the punk vs. metal vs. grunge vs. indie bullshit. If something rocks it effin’ rocks, and Not Your Kind of People definitely rocks.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Silversun Pickups: Neck of The Woods (Review)

Packed with the Silversun Pickups’ signature guitar sounds, which oscillate from warm and enveloping to darkly sinister, their new album Neck of The Woods, which is designed to expand their sound slightly, ends up simply giving us more of the same instead. If you’re a Silversun Pickup fan though, then this is right up your alley. I must confess that I am a fan, not in the least because of their unflinching nostalgic ‘90s sound. It’s a sound that is reminiscent of the band they are most oft compared to, The Smashing Pumpkins (another of my ‘90s favorites), but is unique enough to be their own. Produced by Jacknife Lee (U2, REM, Weezer), Neck of The Woods has a tighter and louder sound than both Carnavas and Swoon and dabbles in electronic beats and synths here and there, but the fuzzy, and at times pretty hard hitting, guitar work is still front and center, as it should be on a Silversun Pickups album.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Adam “MCA” Yauch 1964-2012: “Glad If It Helps Anyone Else Out Too”

Unlike most of those offering commentary on the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch, I can’t say that The Beastie Boy’s music changed my life, changed the way I listened to music, introduced me to a new musical genre, or changed my way of thinking. I can’t even say that The Beastie Boys are one of my favorite rap/rock/alternative groups of all time. I can’t say that I own every one of their albums. I do own the ones I like, namely Check Your Head, Ill Communication, and License to Ill (I own To The Five Boroughs too, but I don’t particularly like it). What I can say though is that I do like a large amount The Beastie Boys’ music, and MCA was my (and many others’) favorite member of The Beastie Boys. I know musical talent when I see it and hear it, and The Beastie Boys, MCA in particular, were just oozing talent. Their talent as musicians, rappers, and performers is paralleled only by the greatest of the popular music world’s most talented. They were groundbreakers and did introduce millions of kids and adults to a genre of music that they most likely knew nothing about, and in their later days, as lead by MCA, supported many just causes and introduced enlightening messages into their music via MCA’s interest in Tibetan Buddhism, the plight of Tibet, and other socially conscious ideas and movements. For such a great talent, and soul, to be laid low by such a common, yet no less horrific, disease at such a young age is truly one of the most sorrowful events that the music world can experience. Even more so, it is a sorrowful blow to the human spirit.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Marilyn Manson: Born Villain (Review)

I hated Marilyn Manson and his shtick for a long time. Mostly because it was over the top silly in an effort to be frightening, he showed his ass (literally) at the MTV Music Video Awards, and scores of pre-adolescent and early adolescent kids dressed up like him and his band and hung out at amusement parks as if they were doing something truly rebellious or revolutionary. His lyrics were of the garden variety “I hate myself and the world” and “I’m the antichrist” themes. Manson’s only redeeming quality was the way his music sounded, but it took Trent Reznor (Manson was a former NIN collaborator) to give it some sonic punch by turning up Manson’s guitars. I started warming to Manson’s music, and some of his message, when I heard “The Fight Song” off of Holy Wood (In the Valley of The Shadow of Death). Manson’s refrain “The death of one is a tragedy/The death of a million is just a statistic,” (I don’t know if he came up with that or not) really captured my attention. I finally found an excuse to justify my listening to Manson, after all, someone with that much anger must care about what’s going on in the world to rail against it so. Later on, I would be ashamed to admit that I really, really liked Golden Age of Grotesque. It wasn’t lyrically expansive or anything, but it did rock. Now comes along Manson’s eighth album, Born Villain, and I wondered how I would react to it…if I would react at all…