April CD Review
I really had a problem forcing myself to listen to this band. First of all- “Billy Talent”? Come on. But I was forced to listen to it by a co-writer, and I ended up really, really liking it. It’s not faux angst-ridden emo, cantankerous throwback rock, or wussy acoustic-laden love lost rambling. This album is as straight-forward as you can get with good old fashioned rock and roll… from Canada. It’s got the standard-issue Canadian yelping but here it actually is an asset and not a detriment to their sound. From the beginning of “Devil in a Midnight Mass” to “Burn the Evidence”, the band really shows a diversity that is rare in today’s youth music scene. Usually a band has 12 songs that all sound the same and really don’t provide a good message or even a cohesive string of words, but the Billy boys actually make sense! Even their attempt at cliché rock anthem (a la clean verse, rocking chorus) in “Pins and Needles” works quite well, even the message is good. This confused me a bit, they’re currently on tour with My Chemical Romance, what a mixed message to the kids: kill yourself, don’t kill yourself, life sucks, life’s not so bad… I guess that’s for the parents to explain.
Bone Palace Ballet
Equal Vision Records
As per usual with the Chiodos boys I can’t give them an un-biased review because they are seriously the greatest group of lads I have ever had the pleasure of befriending. Of all the tours I ever went on, touring with Chiodos was the greatest experience I have had. Two shows into the tour, we had to switch headliners because Chiodos blew up so quickly. By Texas, we were selling out 1,000 plus capacity venues, and it was by no length because of the band I was in (they’re still lucky to be on Ferret, yet they probably still don’t appreciate it). But let’s take a look at this offering from the Michigan Chiodos Brothers. You’ve got – Craig, the good looking crooner that can command thousands with a high-pitched swoon; Brad, the key stroker that could hold his own in Sonata Arctica as well as his current ensemble; Pat, the silent ninja that rarely says a word or makes a gesture until absolutely necessary; Matt, the thunder from Flint… well he makes me quiver at least, Jason…yeah, watching him warm up makes me wanna put down my guitar; and Derrick, the most snuggly drummer I have ever encountered (he also tops my best-dressed list). If I tried to list the titles of the songs, I’d run out of space so I’ll just say this – if you haven’t purchased this CD by now, you’re a fucking idiot. The music is well produced, extremely well written (piano-metal-rock that will leave you floored), and the individual members are more than able to hold their own and even stand out as individuals AND as a cohesive unit. I will say that the stand out song for me was “I didn’t say I was powerful, I said I was a Wizard”. And that’s the only song title I will quote. The great thing about this particular song is that it marks the bands venture into straight ahead pop. I know that will lost countless fans that think that for a band to be good, they have to be “weird” and “underground”, but they’re 14 so what do we care.
Are you kidding me? No. Not even gonna give this any more than this sentence…right….here.
Country Club Records
Hey! Garage Rock! I remember you. Listening to this, I wish they promo-d out vinyl. This is fantastic guitar-driven rock. Vintage guitars and amps, slightly distorted vocals, a GUITORGAN, and some damn silly lyrics (“Mandy, I mean Mindy”) make this a worthwhile album that, much like many things in the San Diego scene, will fall by the wayside and never really go anywhere. With the exception of Stone Temple Pilots, New York is a musical black hole, kinda sucks these guys actually MOVED there. If they had moved to Silverlake, they’d be underground sensations! I could easily place these guys in a room with Mando Diao and Richard Swift at the Spaceland, and that would be a swell evening, let me tell you. This kind of has a Grand Archives (Sub Pop), mixed with some Mudhoney, and a touch of Flaming Lips a la “She don’t use jelly” (can you believe that was Flaming Lips??) feel to it that evokes a pretty decent amount of youthful exuberance. Although I must say, I did not get “Pong” – the song, not the game. Didn’t really fit in the album. And quite a bit of girl trouble there boys. But that’s not really enough to give this album less than my admiration and praise.
Steve Moore has been around. Jazz musician, transplanted New Yawker, and current face-melter as part of Sunn0))), this man has been living the dream for a number of years. Yet it took him this long to realize, “Hey! I play all these instruments! I should do something with that talent!” Well he decided to, and this is some pretty amazing stuff. Heavy on the Jazz tip, with some really juicy guitar riffage, the self-titled debut from Stebmo makes Bossa Nova accessible to the kids that thought “Bossa Nova” was a band on tour with Dimmu Borgir. It’s hard to even type while I’m listening to this album because I don’t want to miss a note. I know I can go back to it after I’m done, but it is so enthralling. If I hear a Rhodes, I’m going to cream my pants. The one thing I hate about nouveau jazz acts is that they sound NOTHING like Jazz. Jazz existed from 1920-1968, and then it became crap. When Jazz ensembles play coffee shops and Jazz clubs, they play old standards, nothing from Tower of Power has graced these ears in the better part of a decade. But this release has completely 360’d my opinion. Every song makes me pull out the booklet (was that a banjo uke? Distorted piano?? Oboe?), I’m amazed. This album should…no! NEEDS to be on Blue Note, or a label of similar size and breadth. I can’t imagine who on earth wouldn’t think this is the greatest Jazz album to come out in the last twenty years. Fuck this is awesome!
Oh No! Canadians again!!! More guitar-driven (soft) rock n’ roll. It’s a bit discerning to say so, but why aren’t American bands rocking anymore? Seems like it’s coming from Sweden or Canada. Two places that it should NOT be coming from. Well Ladyhawk, you may have brought the rock this time – with your Jonathon Richman-esque vocals, and your subtle guitar slinging; you may have won this round, but some American band will rip you off and make millions, just you wait! I’m really glad Secretly Canadian created a new label to be able to put out the heavier bands that couldn’t find an outlet but still belonged in that genre. “Faces of Death” feels like a Frosted Wheat commercial: The Elliot Smith in me likes the soulful singing and heartbreaking lyrics, but the J. Mascis in me likes sneaking in a guitar solo at every possible moment.
Toy Gun Cowboy
Damn you kids and your new fangled machines. Seriously, some kid in his garage just made an amazing album. Bands used to use a reel to reel machine in their basement, take that from label to label, hoping that an exec can make out what should be a song in there, and sign them in hopes of making a decent recording. Now people can do it all on a computer and it sounds just as good. Matthew Erickson made a really good pop album using nothing more than a guitar, mic (with vocoder), and a drum machine, tells the story (in reverse) of man’s banishment from Eden – which was inspired the Jet Blue incident when their landing gear descended crooked and the plane had to land with cockeyed landing gear. A couple of bands have tried this and failed (Goldo, Young Love, Fun Lovin’ Criminals) and yet achieved commercial success. I just hope that talent like this can actual get the best of both worlds. But knowing the way the world is, he’s f**ked.