There are just some bands and records that whizzes by once awhile and I never really am able to grasp it fully when I happen to catch in at the right time. As Marianas Trench sets on their fourth record in just a little over a decade, we truly see how defining and spectacular the crescendos are when they fall. And my God, do they fall with a romping thunderstorm.
Confident is Demi Lovato’s fifth album and she hasn't really released much since 2013, where the Camp Rock star had last seen success. Is this a step forward in the right direction or just simply a stale release?
A Welcome Return?
Avicii's debut album, True, was released back in 2013 when I reviewed it, exploding it back then which I claimed it was one of the best and also one of my favourite albums of that year. Almost 2 years later, quite possibly after many hopscotch releases from the DJ himself, he has released a new album to finally please fans. The thing is... will it? Well, we'll just have to see.
Awolnation! And Sail, and Not Your Fault... and Run. This is the sophomore studio album, after releasing his debut album Megalithic Symphony which I'm still not completely sold on, spawning the ultimate hit of the 2011-2012's Sail. Now, if there's anything that is going to be hard to follow-up to, all you need to do is to ask the front-man of the band, Aaron Bruno, who mostly wrote every song on this album, because when you have a fanbase (or not) that only remembers your most successful song (you already know what it is), it's going to be really tough. And for the most part, he does do it justice mainly because Symphony had sore flaws, but that doesn't mean Run doesn't suffocate itself with it, too.
To be fair, to say Awolnation was 'lucky' that Sail became as popular and successful as it is, is an insult to the man and the band, who did the song not only justice, but with a solid aplomb. While it was obviously oblivious to a re-touching of the vocals which became apparent in the final product that it was a little too fizzy and distorted, Aaron Bruno still went with it anyway since he thought nobody's going to listen to it. The drums, coupled with well-timed and executed synthesizers reveals this monster of a production that is just gorgeous to soak in to. One thing to keep in mind though, is to not just remember that Sail was a song for product placement, but the track itself paved the way and opened eyes for more people who thought atmospheric tracks never found a home in today's music industry. And I would love to advocate my point on it. Let's get right on in with the album.
It's a shaky start, and everybody knows. Run is mainly a recreation, if I would admit of Symphony, but with much more intimate courses like a meal that when savoured, is amazing to swallow but like it's predecessor, there's too much of everything. The title track, which is also the first track on the album, runs alongside traditions similar to Sail, but with much more layered synthesizers and a little hint of piano, before it smashes into disarray with the gouging out of electric guitars that just revels in atmospheric chaos. And most of the tracks on this album do hit hard when they throw a punch, such as tracks like the explosive KOOKSEVERYWHERE!!! (I know), intensity of Dreamers and some parts of the dark and gritty nature of Windows. In fact though, most of the tracks on this album don't really focus on the aggressive nature that was particularly evident in Symphony (Soul Wars an example). Instead, the album finds its' home in the arms of more selfless efforts like Fat Face (which is a break-down coming directly after the impressive track that is Run), Jailbreak, and two of my favourites Headrest for My Soul and Woman Woman (with Holy Roller sneaking in). It's strange, coincidentally that when you have tracks that roar out from the fissures of the Earth, the tracks that are much more softer in general tend to speak louder than its counterparts, and that was something that surprised me exceptionally. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that the aggressive nature disappeared entirely because there's always the undertone of it on tracks like Windows.
I find myself wanting to listen to more of the aforementioned tracks like the the title, and Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf), which I think is a great song, though won't become an instant classic. Give it a couple more spins and it will grow on you, because it did for me. But it wasn't really the engaging synthesizers that I was looking for, but rather the sound that captivated and compelled me to listen to the band in the first place - the atmospheric channels, and for the most part songs that had both style and substance in the veins of Sail. That was difficult to do, and I think Aaron Bruno wanted to distance himself from the previous album considering with a hit like that on your shoulders, sometimes it does more harm than good eventually.
The album itself is meant to be listened to one song at a time, and the essence that it captures does draw a bottleneck, though not intensely, but it still works decently. Some tracks don't necessarily pair up well with others (Run to Fat Face, Headrest for My Soul to Dreamers) but that is to be expected considering Symphony had pretty much the same problem. But I felt that I got more with this album than I did with the predecessor, and for me that is saying a lot. Connection to songs like Headrest for My Soul, Windows, Woman Woman, Lie Love Live Love and hell, even Run all have an emotional core though don't wear it on their sleeves all the time, and works extremely well when the album tries to go in sharp turns that I did not expect.
Essential: Windows, Run
Favourite Tracks: Headrest for My Soul, Woman Woman, Hollow Moon
Least Favourite Tracks: Fat Face, Drinking Lightning
I have to be honest; this album is absolutely great. It's definitely, in my opinion, a little better than Megalithic Symphony, and it reaches new heights that were otherwise never traversed on his previous record. If you're looking for a new Sail, you might get fun out of Windows, Run and Hollow Moon for that matter, but this album is a sweet wine for the soul -- as long as you got your mind straight for the most part. Definitely looking forward to Awolnation's future releases. A shorter summary? Listen to this album twice, because it deserves every spot of attention from your ears. Just don't get too embedded in the wrong side of things.
After a few days of having the luxury of sinking my head into Kelly Clarkson's newest album, it's finally time to talk about it! (That was a goddamn short introduction)
The seventh studio album by the American Idol winner (season 1 by the way for those who don't know) is finally here, titled Piece by Piece which released a few weeks ago but only got a hold of it the past few days. While I'm not exactly the biggest Clarkson fan out there, I would say I've listened to some of her previous hits which include probably one of my favourite track Breakaway, the 'a little too generic' Stronger, and possible one of her better tracks of late in Catch My Breath. Though the only thing that comes to satisfaction in her discography probably has to be her sophomore record, which does contain some of her stronger hits and also some of the tracks which people normally associate her with. Does this album deliver for the most part? Well, let's see.
First of all, this album is basically a 'you get what you pay for' album in the sense that it's every corner a Clarkson fold wherein there is her unmissable vocals, very stringent production and simply niche, or over-used framing for lyrics that are just simply cliche. Now don't get me wrong, while I think it's not a very bad album, there's nothing really special nor of weight for me to remember it for what it is, and that's quite a big problem.
Upfront, the tracks are serviceable at best. Even a John Legend feature doesn't 'spice' things up, and most tracks on this album are quite literally dull and boring. The best track is not even in the original album itself, and rather on the deluxe edition titled Bad Reputation that has the dance vibe that is heard throughout the album but manages to pull off a smooth punch with its drums and guitars (even the horns/trumpets) that also has a pacey drive to it.
The album itself is technically decent, and for the most part is what is actually lacking. Miss Clarkson's vocals are at the same time okay, but could've been better. The first three tracks easily set the tone for the rest of the album in a rather sentimental, calm mood that just jaunts on to every other track. And we're talking 13 tracks with almost the same sense of sentimental retreat to it. Some of it are pace-driven (sort of) like the more upbeat ones such as Invincible, Take You High, Let Your Tears Fall, War Paint and Dance With Me.
I know it feels as if this album doesn't live up to its potential, but it is what it is. When it comes to the lyrics, the album just falls apart like a train wreck. I'm sorry, but lyrically this album is just not good enough - at all. 'Don't be sad that it's over - just be happy it happened to us' (Nostalgic), 'If you wanna' lead be a leader - if you wanna' dream be a dreamer' (I Had A Dream) are just examples, but the string of it certainly doesn't stop there. I know it sounds as if I'm grinding on about these things but I just can't skewer them out of this review. It's literally there for everyone to hear.
One (and only) thing that is probably the best part on this entire album is Clarkson's vocals. Although she doesn't reach the highs of her previous records, on tracks like Let Your Tears Fall, Good Goes The Bye and Invincible, all of which share strength, vocal control and finesse that just adds to the fine feature to this album, in which otherwise does nothing to compliment her at all. A dubstep on Take You High? That just takes me out of the track almost instantly, whereas on Piece by Piece, the drums and pianos are well coordinated and doesn't block the listening pleasure of the album too much. Even on Good Goes The Bye where the synths do share too much of the stage with Clarkson but when it reaches the chorus, they drop to the background and lets the voice do all the work (which should have been from the start). In fact, that might possibly be my favourite track of the entire album and I'm not even kidding, and add to that probably War Paint and Invincible with the latter I see becoming a fantastic single.
Favourite Tracks: Good Goes The Bye, War Paint, Invincible
Least Favourite Tracks: Take You High, Nostalgic, I Had a Dream
If you're looking for a decent follow up to her 2011 release then I'm sorry, this is not it. With bland production, at times great vocals coupled with lyrics that are just blatantly cliche, I would probably only recommend this album to people who think that they have a grip on sentimental music. Would I recommend it to her fan-base? Hell no, considering most of them have already heard the album. But still, it's not as bad as it seems that I may have put and there are certainly worse albums out there for sure. For now, I'd say stick to the three tracks I've tacked for favourite and you're probably good to go.
REVIEW TIME! Man I wanted to do a quick review for some of the albums I missed so far but I'm going to do that soon (give me like a month. Okay, maybe a day). For now, we get the much anticipated release from the Grammy-winning -- yes, not nominated -- band Imagine Dragons. Is this album going to be better than the rather polarizing record (for me at least) that is Night Visions? Well folks, there's a saying that you should know what you're buying and right here... is unfortunately not Gold.
When the band popped up in 2012-2013 and released the worldwide euphoria that is It's Time, they followed up the single with a flurry of knockout punches in the form of Radioactive, Demons and On Top of the World (okay, not really) which eventually succeeded into a rather dismal, disappointing and messy album that is Night Vision. Yeah people liked it, for sure, but take out the existing singles and you get an album that can't even stand with two legs on it's own. Surely the band will have learnt a concise lesson from their previous outing despite their winning Grammys (and that amazing performance with Kendrick Lamar) and hopefully be able to put out an album that is at least on par with their own talents.
And I will say, God damn I wanted to like this album. The band itself has this creative and unique way of looking at music from a different perspective that just speaks volumes when it comes to them making it and really turning the scope of what they're developing. However, on their new album Smoke + Mirrors, things chuck and change as easy as reusing toothpicks to eating a fruit. For starters, the record is not bad at all, and most hardcore fans will embrace it for months to come. But this album, insufferably, is equally as appalling as their preceding record and lends nothing to the table other than the very stale formula the band built itself to shake from. What does this mean? Well...
First of all the singles are alright. They aren't special, none of them stand out (well, technically some did because the others were just lacking in parity) and for the most part do not feel like Imagine Dragons. I looked at the band as if they were willing to take risks, with the ideas behind Radioactive and their charting hits to be rather a forceful punch to really strike at new ideas, but when the album started, the tracks just melted as if they were put in a blender. Out of Shots, Gold and I Bet My Life, the first one on the list felt lacking in all sorts of aspect of songwriting; repetitive lines in the chorus that transcends to Gold, drums in the background and Dan Reynolds doing falsettos (we'll get to that in a moment) that just feels bland. Gold's production and it's stutter start that may well suit a Kanye West track turns into this monster that eats up the chorus with thumping guitars along with a solid bass-line to back it up. I Bet My Life feels similar to It's Time in the veins of familiarity -- great vocals, good guitars, decent drums and a pulsating hook is just basically same song and dance at this point.
Granted, the band does shake things up and emerge with roaring gigantic tracks such as I'm So Sorry and Friction which showcases the band's rock elements coming into play. I'm so sorry (not the song) but, they just feel so out of place on this album. Yes they are rock-heavy and they do strike with an iron fist, but they sequentially miss the point. The former track drowns itself in stuttering electric guitars and once it reaches the chorus, everything is just thrown into this pot of melting stew that is just messy as hell. Friction on the other hand feels like an acoustic-driven, foreign track that has pop elements from Michael Jackson's Wanna' Be Startin' Something (That resemblance to the lyrics popped out of my head in front of my screen when I heard it) and is probably the better track of the two. It has the thumping guitars the band is well known for, and Reynolds' vocals are simply jarring and focused. Is it one of the better tracks on the album? As far as I can see, I have to say yes at this point.
I know the lyrics have to be mentioned, though the band does write in very disparate ways from their alternative rock counterparts and this is transparently visible on their single tracks (all of them). I must say that the ones that had this problem was definitely the album's title track, Polaroid which is really somber and feels genuine though has a tendency to often drift to a cynical void and It Comes Back To You which just feels forgettable to be honest.
And then we come to Dan Reynold's vocals. I know he wasn't really that good on Night Visions mainly because the instruments carried the album, but how things have changed. Falsettos, though a little bit too stretched at times, and the low notes that he hits definitely served to become the better part of this album, and potentially saved the album on tracks like Trouble, Dream and Hopeless Opus, all of which are just varying and completely forgettable - shallow guitars and bass - and has little sentiment to them. Trouble though deserves a mention because Reynolds delivered an outstanding performance on the track and matched the rushing guitars and drums extremely well. The Fall also deserves a definite mention.
The thumping guitars on the album served basically zero purpose other than to build up the chorus and the hook, and I felt that it was either misused or underused. Never did it feel like it appeared at the right time and too much of it definitely felt as if they wanted each track to be some kind of overarching, bellowing, rousing track that would scale to the top with screams rather than pure euphoria.
Favourite Tracks: Friction, Trouble, Gold
Least Favourite Tracks: Smoke And Mirrors, Polaroid, It Comes Back To You
This sophomore album from Imagine Dragons belts out much more earthquakes does it do itself justice by delivering a straight-on, evolution of their previous record Night Visions. Is it better than the preceding record? I would say yes, but by an extremely fine margin. And the band also does no favor to themselves other than simply put that this album is just not good enough. Is it worthy of a recommendation? I think yes, but they did not earn it that's for sure. All in all, Imagine Dragons' fans rejoice and we'll hopefully see a much more focused album in the future. One can only hope.
So uh, when did Kanye West join the Beatles?
It is new music Sunday and Rihanna drops a new tweet and new music from her upcoming studio album that is currently nameless that features the great Paul McCartney and hip hop star Kanye West (I'm obliged considering Yeezus, well, okay). What do I think? Well, first signs of listening have definitely structured this single in good light. And I mean damn good light.
Now first of all, people were definitely complaining about Kanye not dropping any bars, in which he did sing his verses. Really? People were complaining about this? I mean it's not like Yeezus was no different. Obviously, I'm joking with this one. And to be fair, I did expect a few fires to light with Kanye name-dropping or going hard as usual, but things started to take a turn when McCartney's guitar instrumentation lead the track into oblivion and beyond. It's a feel-good song with Kanye singing, and he does hold his own for the two verses he was placed with but we all know he's not a singer -- come on.
FourFiveSeconds, as the track is called, is mainly a collaboration between the trio and will be up on both Kanye and Rihanna's forthcoming albums though Kanye himself did state that acoustic guitars weren't his pair of socks.
What made me surprised was Paul's disappearance behind the mic. He was obviously handling the guitar, but his voice would've made a soothing transition with the bridge considering Rihanna's vocals have been passable for the most part. It's not hard to even forge a relationship with the track's lyrics when the core lines are: "I'm four-five seconds to wildin'." Did you really expect Paul to sit down with his guitar and strum up lyrics like that? I mean he did had a hand in making I Am The Walrus but that's not the point.
Either way, the track is in my opinion, very solid. There are flaws that are overexposed for the most part, but other than McCartney's missing vocals and Kanye's wiggled verses, the track is relatively smooth and fine. It's not a fantastic track -- make no mistake, but you're going to have a fun-ass time with it. Trust me on this one. And with it, this song is damn near enjoyable.
Short review and an even shorter conclusion.
A new year is upon us! And with that, we get a new album to savour in. Fall Out Boy's sixth studio album aptly titled American Beauty/American Psycho will be the first review of 2015. While I haven't done much else since November, it's finally good to be able to review something fresh, so let's jump right in.
Having since gone on to enjoy all of Fall Out Boy's releases (still particularly a little underwhelmed by Infinity on High), I can safely say that expectations were sky-high when I went into this album. A follow-up to their 2013 release, Save Rock And Roll, fans were anticipating this more than anything else. With that, does the album fire on all cylinders?
I've been teetering back and forth with the album entirely since I've heard it a few days ago, to almost 20 listens on repeat upon writing this review. It's definitely a hard album to review considering I'm a fan of the band and when you need to become strict in session when the time comes. Obviously, the review for the predecessor record has definitely a biased view towards it (I'd give it a simple 7/10 if I could re-do it, but I guess not!), so I've decided to fully enhance the review and go full-on with what I'm going to write, rather than stick to my heart. Here goes.
As the successor record, it's easy to compare American Beauty/American Psycho to their previous release because both of them came one after the other. While I digress when it comes to opinions, I truly believe that this album, on first listen, is disappointing when put side by side to Save Rock And Roll. First listens are always jarring, and the album did somewhat okay when it tried to deliver blow after blow. But before we truly chop the record and look into it, let's take a look at the singles.
Centuries, Immortals, the title track, The Kids Aren't Alright (which I have a reservation for) and their new single, Irresistible have all come into foray and the only track that left me appalled was American Beauty/American Psycho. It is a little messy and chaotic on first listen which does seem to be distracting, but with peering listens the song does offer some thrusting drums which I have not heard Andy trash in a long time. Along with that, the synthesisers don't shy away from the spotlight as well. In a way, while the track does have redeeming qualities, I could never really put it on repeat but would not skip in a heartbeat.
Now what comes to mind as really fist-punching, and return to form for this album are the fantastic lyrics penned by Pete Wentz and co. It is so satisfying and gratifying to finally listen to what phrases and sentences the band have come around to since their hiatus, rather than cheap and cheesy throwaways on tracks like Death Valley. Of course there are minorities on this album (none other than Favourite Record), but all in all the lyrics finally do make sense and intertwine perfectly. In the track Jet Pack Blues, the relationship turns sour and as Patrick belts out an amazing chorus, the song tells of a tale where the girl of his dreams is telling him to come out of the dark and "come home". Along the second verse, what strikes as thunderous were the lines: "I've got those jet pack blues/fight of the light tonight and just stay with me/Honey don't you leave". The sincerity and the appreciation are as effective as they were pre-hiatus, and it's so good to have such diversity and augmentation to the songwriting once more.
As always, Patrick's vocals are top notch as is in previous albums, and is no different than it was before. On tracks like Centuries, The Kids Aren't Alright and Irresistible, his high notes are hit well and his falsettos on Novocaine don't seem to become too annoying just like an artist of the past year (I'm looking at you Maroon 5). While that really needs no commending, it's good to hear Andy get some flashy plays with his drums considering he hasn't had much work to do when some songs require electronic drums or stale drum beats. He does fantastic in the album title track as well as Twin Skeleton's.
Now this is where I start to feel as if the production becomes either lightweight, or just too much on tracks like Immortals, Novocaine, Fourth of July or just too little on others like Favourite Record. This, is also the part where the debate of which album is more superior - Save Rock And Roll or American Beauty/American Psycho - and considering that I've looked at them sideways, it's time for the final verdict. There isn't a runaway winner considering I've been a big fan of their previous release and it's really hard to judge.
But still, I've got to be firm. Yes, American Beauty/American Psycho really impressed on all four fronts that when I looked back on the amount of times played for this record, it is a really diminishing record because this album had a lot for everybody. At times, the album shot their previous release off the rails that makes you wonder if the band will ever produce better material in the future. If you liked Save Rock and Roll, you'll like this album. If you're a Fall Out Boy fan, chances are you will be polarised by either the change in direction, sound or production; all of which came at a rapid speed since they went off hiatus. While I am not impressed, there are certain elements in this new record that justified and redeemed itself. Whether it be The Munsters sampled dance groove Uma Thurman, to the guitar-heavy driven Centuries, everything just flows smoothly.
One song in particular, that I left out for a reason, was The Kids Aren't Alright. This is a must-hear single for all to listen to. Not many tracks have impressed me as much as this track and if not for it, this album might have had a cutting edge blow to the score. The track is enthused with vibrant guitar and piano melodies that shines and never becomes dusted. The core whistling throughout the song never annoys at all and the lyrics are an emotional roller-coaster to begin with. "And with the black banners raised as the crooked smiles fade/Former heroes who quit too late/Just wanna' feel up the trophy case again." It was a nostalgia-ridden adventure that leaves me thinking back on some of the fond memories of the past - personal and as a fan of the band. This song could become my favourite track of the band post-hiatus, with Young Volcanoes being a close second.
Favourite Tracks: The Kids Aren't Alright, Jet Pack Blues, Uma Thurman, Novocaine
Least Favourite Tracks: Favourite Record, Fourth of July
It's always good to look back on a band's glory days and truly wonder of their existence now. While American Beauty/American Psycho might not land outside of your playground, it's definitely worth checking out for sure. If anything, this album is a true return to form in every way barring some slight annoyances. Save Rock And Roll may be a step in the right direction, but this album treads previous waters and still flavours it with new Fall Out Boy formula that with rejuvenated lyrical-tinted painting, should become a gander than a gamble for everyone to see.
It's a long review but it's been a fun one!
Now I will admit, I'm not the biggest Pitbull fan nor a decent chunk of club-driven hits to the next person at a bar. But what I will say is I always go into an album with a distilled mindset, hoping that maybe something new emerges and catches my ear, or the artist learns a different style and hop on different variations. All of this don't exactly sound like Pitbull, but I'm giving it a solid chance. So, how does Globalization feel? I'm guessing that this could be quite a short review.
If you're checking into the 'same-old, same-old', well, you aren't far off the mark. Pitbull's ascertainty and non-revelating punchlines do seem well out of touch and too hashed that none of what he talks even mean anything at all. I get that he's been around since 2000's and has been a host to some of the artists that he has worked with (recently including Kesha, Ne-Yo, and so on and so forth), and that his fan base (if he has one) mostly cater to the fun and enjoying club bangers, something of which Timber and Fireball enthuse about. I know I'm ricocheting off balance, but I do hope you understand what I mean when I say that Pitbull's music really needs you to close off some part of your brain to truly indulge it. Or flatly, just don't care about it.
I will bring to attention that Pitbull's best hits come in the form of features on his albums and prior, duly so considering he brings to attention the American market for the most part and he himself to the Latin and Spanish diversity. What people don't catch is that popularity does not translate to great music, and because of that, Pitbull's popularity increased but his reputation went the other way. It's easy to say that Pitbull's tracks are fun than just all about booze and alcohol, because if you slap that on a rap record, you'd immediately become a saint for recognising what is true, rather than what the attention the artist was getting to. Globalization may not have seem to pack lines of intent surrounding the lyrics, but if you're looking for that here... you're well off missing the entire point of the record.
Wild Wild Love will be the best thing that this album can do, considering Pitbull's verse on that track was abysmal from start to finish. There is a crunch of melody inserted into every track. Yes, and that crunch often leads into a dragging synth line, drum or simple high-hats or claps that easily become background post to the main dish. While Pitbull does become the centre of negativity, there is no denying that his music is enjoyable even at the most dirties of levels underground (compare this album to Nickelback's album Dark Horse, you may trench yourself with the production but lose yourself with it's lyrics). There is just enough wit here to leave you mesmerised with tint of steel that will be on your mind for quite some time. Fireball, Time Of Our Lives and Celebrate, and to an extent, Fun, are all similarities with slight bit of emotional punch and dense epidemic jumps that will leave you peeking your ear close.
Does this album have any flaws at all? Technically and mainly, yes. But are those flaws similar to the past? Definitely. And does this mean that Pitbull is revoked off of his punishment because of that? Hell no. The point here, and even what the album is trying to make, simply shakes off -- not completely -- the entirety of the content and it's stakes simply because there isn't much to reward listeners with anything at all, besides club-hits and an abundance of melodic tracks that spew all over the album. Obviously, there are very flat tracks on the other side of the leaf such as Ah Leke, Drive You Crazy, We Are One.
Favourite Tracks: Wild Wild Love, Fireball, Celebrate
Least Favourite Tracks: Ah Leke, Drive You Crazy, We Are One.
To simplify the review: this album lands where it aims. There is no denying that Pitbull's charisma and melodic presence on this track and while not every song is gold, Globalization may not be that bad of an album to start with.
Come on people, bear this with me. If you're a big fan of Nickelback, well, chances are you will need to hang on tight. And if you're not, and more of a 'hater' as so you will... maybe you need to pin them down if you're hanging them somewhere. Because by now, you'll have plenty more to tend to.
No Fixed Address is Nickelback's eight studio album, and you might be surprised at how far they've come. Now, there's always the stereotypical people who aren't that into Nickelback and take the eye from the pearl. In other words, they love to hate Nickelback and they hate to love them too. Obviously, they haven't had their best days, and I believe they sort of returned to form, if I do say with their most recent album, Here And Now. I do enjoy some of their records, but I agree with others when they say that their music isn't extraordinary. They generally lack that extra bit of punch to make their sound much more enticing. So how does No Fixed Address fair up to their catalog? Hmm.
To say that it is underwhelming is correct to a certain degree, but the overall unpleasantness and the vibe erupting from this record, showcases a very broad scope of inconsistency that has been brought to the table by everyone working on this record. Including you, Flo Rida who probably has no clue and idea why he's even included in the first place.
Right off the bat, the record starts off with Million Miles An Hour and Edge of a Revolution which are basically formulaic Nickelback tracks that have seen light for those tracks that have come before them (When We Stand Together). That really isn't the point, considering the band has had quite a success with it which they have stringed together since their sophomore album came out. As grimy and as thick as the production really tries to blend it's way through and still show true grit and emotion, they immediately become a messy cluster that is individually sound but a combination of chaos. Granted, there are really good guitar solos, albeit restricted, that I thought was well done. However, if you're looking for something different, maybe you've come to the right place.
The groovy, weird and synthetic-lead production for She Keeps Me Up; the piano-chord melodic sentiment track Satellite; the repetitive and overused sound in Miss You; and last but not least, the percussion and bass-enthused track which features Flo Rida on Got Me Running Round - may seem to all be experimental records, but in a wider scope, they really feel as if the band was just pulling out guns with loaded bullets. Some of them hit, some of them don't, most of them are easily forgettable, but for the most part, the tracks are incredibly inconsistent. While this has, to be fair, already been plaguing the band since their early records. Do we expect something of a good calibre? Not really.
The only track that really stands out and shoves them in a good direction is The Hammer's Coming Down. The intro of piano chords, mixed in with the thumping guitars and drums makes for a kick-ass tune that doesn't really seem out of place in all sectors. What comes up as interesting is that they really handle the transition really well for that track specifically. Man, for what would happen had the album been revolving around stripped layers of instruments before laying a gigantic punch in the end.
All in all, I'm not disappointed by the sound Nickelback is trying to bathe in, but the way they go about doing it. While it may seem like a good idea to have one track talking political and the other straight after which is immature, maybe you're doing something wrong? And what is with these low-end love tracks that just feel awkward as hell? The ones that they really blustered and popped were some of the anthemic tracks in the past: Burn It To The Ground especially. Yes, the tracks are cheesy and yes, the tracks don't mean a thing, but damn, do they sound extreme on most ends.
Favourite Tracks: The Hammer's Coming Down, Get Em' Up
Least Favourite Tracks: Satellite, Miss You, Sister Sin, What Are You Waiting For?
Formulaic, inconsistent, messy, chaotic, overload and lyrically dumbed down, No Fixed Address is a well-suited name for an album that strays from cohesion and blends in with the unrelated. Nickelback needs to step up in every direction and to be fair, up the tempo and the hype. Because as it stands, this is ordinarily empty.
Since I'm reviewing some other records, I decided to go back and dive into One Direction's newest release, Four (which is coincidentally their fourth record). Going into this record is more of an experience considering I hadn't heard anything from it, apart from Fireproof, and was skeptical for the most part.
To be fair, I did mention in a review of their previous album, Midnight Memories, in which they went in a direction of 'rock' but never really seized it with their grasps. With this new album though, they seemed to have taken a slight turn with their music while still not really making a new leaf out of the problems in the previous release. What does this mean? Well, a couple of things.
Firstly, the first three tracks straight out of the gate, titled: Steal My Girl, Ready to Run and Where Do Broken Hearts Go (not the original by Whitney Houston - though hell, I'd like to hear their version for it.) pack a nice little combo. They never loosen up, and instead gears up towards the mid-section and just steamrolls over with excellent vocal work and impressive production, albeit overshadowing the band's capabilities. The nice blend of voice between all five members are distinct and can be found all over the record, and nothing sounds genuinely forced and all comes together pretty neatly. The only complaint that I really have for the three tracks would soon follow in the footsteps for the rest of the album, and to be fair, you have heard somewhat enough.
Secondly, the lyrical work for the album does seem to impact more than just the simple grading, and that is always nice to hear. Especially when most tracks have the band member's handprints written all over them. One perfect example to put you through is the track Spaces, which is an indication of the band's maturity at this point, though overall the album doesn't really pull the same roots (Steal My Girl does have cringe-worthy lyrics). While on one hand the lyrics improve tremendously, on the other they hand they don't really seem to blow up to anything.
Thirdly, the production is secondary, but does steal the show (ha) from the boys on tracks like the first three and on the latter three (Spaces, Stockholm Syndrome and Clouds). On the previous record, there were lacklustre tracks that seemed to bleed from the feet and doesn't carry the punch heading into the finale moments. On this album though, the tracks are much stronger in production, seem to be more liberal and have better album shots rather than heading straight for the headlights with songs that will translate into singles sooner or later.
However, not all tracks are incredibly amazing as they seemed to pull the weight along from their previous record, as stated above. Tracks like Fireproof, 18, and especially Girl Almighty just seem to lose focus on all fronts and dissipate rather quickly. It is terribly inconsistent around the middle pack of songs. But you also do understand that on stripped down tracks such as Night Changes, the band's vocal prowess takes over and really shakes things up. Looking on here out, I can already see the major improvements dragging from their previous release, Midnight Memories, albeit slowly and cautious ones.
The tendency for love tracks to feel exaggerated may seem to be bulletproof for the band, but sometimes it's good to just tone it down. I really can't find much faults in this album.
Favourite Tracks: Spaces, Night Changes, Where Do Broken Hearts Go
Least Favourite Tracks: Fireproof, 18, Girl Almighty
One Direction may not have been a popular choice for most people, but hey, I listen to music and not reactions. Four is a great step forward, though issues needed to be address, but otherwise, is a step up from their previous release on a whole.
It's been waiting for you. Here I am, once again to review Taylor Swift's fifth studio album, 1989 which is indicative of Taylor's birth year. Yes, it has leaked so I'm not going to say anymore than that. And while I do understand that fans don't want to hear about the leaked versions, I guess I can't say much more than that.
The pop-country superstar's newest album sees her wear the pop crown and dance around her trophy room. If Shake it Off tells me anything but signs and dreams, I can safely say that this album maybe won't be as hugely successful as Red would be. With new ventures comes new writers in the form of Ryan Tedder (from OneRepublic), Jack Antonoff (from fun.) and Diane Warren, while still working with producers Max Martin and Shellback from her previous release. Has Swift's transition from country and pop to pop be a little burden towards that total change? Halfway through the album, I can safely say no.
There's a lot of things to keep in mind when one listens to the album. Firstly, there's not a whole lot of very stagnant, slow-paced and downtime in between songs. Every track possesses it's own style of signature, unique blend of instruments such as the guitars, the synthesizers and the drums, all of which encompasses the first four tracks of the album. And those tracks itself were not very self-contained nor told a story which Swift has done before. Blank Spaces and Style are proof that while Swift may have reacted to the pubic audience about her relationship issues and whatnot, she has struck back in the clear. However, they don't come to me as revoltingly mesmerizing, and at times rarely catching for attention of the listener. They do come across as scorching pop radio anthems that rudely crashes the doorstep, and in a good way.
Secondly, calling this a 'radioactive pop album' and 'formulaic' feels as if the listeners barely scratched the surface with this album. It's not the best insult simply because there's a lot to be heard on this album that Swift has basically not done before. For example, there's a much bigger of shedding the light on her past relationships, than with Speak Now or Red. Or if listeners do digress about how the album weaves in and out of posture because of different melodic tones, then they are simply missing the point of how versatile Swift's music has become. And for that reason, is a huge plus to the pop star (legitimate term now) for having a wide array of tracks that do not feel enclosed and self-contained, as said above.
But as a listener, what I'm really looking at is how Swift writes her music without the undertone that the country element has completely vanished from sight. Yes, This Love does sort of resemble a little bit of Red and maybe Speak Now, but there's new material there that is enough for fans to flourish in the idea that Taylor can do well without having to use her track record to back her newer music up. And I'm not generalizing the fact that she is well-sounded lyrically to impose herself on just pop-melodic-accents musically. Because when the words show up, they tend to lean from her perspective so it's really intricate and jarring to hear it first-hand. Blank Space is the perfect example, and the outcome is rather solid. There's the very proud use of synthesizers while not really overshadowing her vocals, and the drums provide the dramatic tension that makes the listener want to get engaged into hearing. Some other tracks that feel similar are Bad Blood and Clean.
The other tracks like Out of the Woods and How You Get the Girl simply follow in the footsteps and have the right amount of the pop genre dressed yet still has a Swift edge to it. The unique thing about it is how she has used the instrumentals to her advantage, especially the drums on the album. They provide the eccentric punch yet doesn't lose it's flair when overplayed.
At this point, it does feel as if the album doesn't have any flaws. There are some very blaring ones for sure.
Some tracks on this album feel too generic and they play out as if you've already heard of them before. Welcome to New York, I Wish You Would and Wildest Dreams feels as if Taylor hasn't fully let go of the country vibe tangled on her sleeves. They just feel like 'another track' and seem to provide focus for the other bigger hits, which also includes her smash hit Shake it Off. Because of this, these tracks are now the more slow-paced, powdered tracks that would otherwise leave off the album as energetic fun and a charismatic take on the pop genre as defined by Swift herself. Of course, the problems stated above could also be individual worries that maybe the average listener would not feel the same with.
Favourite Tracks: Blank Space, Style, How You Get The Girl
Least Favourite Tracks: Welcome to New York, I Wish You Would, Wildest Dreams
Some artists tend to ride out into the sunset with a heartache on their sleeves and a punched ticket to fame. While Swift may over-extend her welcome in the country genre and tackle the same problems all over again albeit in a genre that she feels more comfortable with -- 1989 is a solid album, albeit laced with genre-related issues and at times strict melodies -- that you definitely should check out.
rose ave. is You+Me's, a collaboration between P!nk (Alecia Moore) and Dallas Green who arrives from City and Colour, debut album. To be fair, for me at least, this album came out of nowhere and definitely caught my unawares. It's a folk, country twinge album that really rides high on basically more or less, a stripped down version of tracks that focuses largely on a country acoustic guitar. This plays well into both artists' hands as P!nk is also known for writing her own hits with a guitar and Dallas Green too. Without further ado, let's get straight into the album.
First off, the country and folk vibe of this album is immense in an absolutely beautiful way. One that comes across as humble, sincere and harmonious, that both P!nk and Dallas fits into perfectly. It may not strike off as a great combination, but both artists lead the lines in their own powerful way, especially on the first three tracks: Capsized, From A Closet in Norway and Gently, the notes just seemingly come into their own and it is so soothing at times when every word pieces like a string and you have the chance to take a gander at it first-hand. Of course, P!nk definitely has the powerful vocal range, and therefore does outshine Dallas' voice, but each of them have their own distinct spotlight to shine at different times.
Secondly, there's a presence surrounding this album that feels soft, unique and doesn't take away anything from what we currently have on offer from the music stores. That's not to say that the albums aren't good, but there's the lesser reality of really digging deep into a track and admiring what it served to do, rather than artists who use it truly for being able to sell it. rose ave. puts us through crystal clear lenses and sits us on a chair, showing us that the art from truly has not dilated from it's predecessors, and rather, it's telling of a tale so enriching that puts the artists emotions into a symbolic use that comes off as vibrant and colourful, which this album dishes with high capacity. You really take a step back, and understand the efforts. Genre specific-wise, there's also a lot going on that might not truly sink deep, as country has become more pop-pushing and folk has been on the edge of disappearance.
Thirdly, which is the only thing I couldn't cross my mind seeing, was that the lyrics weren't really clicking for most tracks like their first single You And Me and Capsized. It's not to say that the weight was not there, but more to the point of it being felt as if it was rushed. Some lyrics felt grown out, others cliche, but all in all, enough for the average listener to enjoy, though I would've liked to see more fleshed out, in-depth lyrics that coincide with the current tracks.
Other than that, there are a few tracks I really couldn't get into, but maybe it wasn't more of a scope for the general audience, but more of a personal experience. But otherwise, this album is extremely solid.
Favourite Tracks: From A Closet In Norway, Love Gone Wrong, Break The Cycle
Least Favourite Tracks: Capsized, Second Guess
This album is truly mesmerizing in every possible way. Some tracks you will love, others you will burn through but still remember because there's always a gem for everybody here. Trust me, this album is gold.
It's all about the bass. No, but seriously, this 4-song EP may have just put Meghan Trainor, rising pop star on the map. Incidentally, this EP may just be the breakout album to skyrocket her even further to success. Of course, since there's only four tracks on this EP, I'll just get into the nitty gritty real quick.
There's a lot of talk for Meghan Trainor since All About That Bass, the single which got her to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, became popular on YouTube. I will say that the single was enjoyable at best, but the message should not be overlooked. And that kind of shows that the singer is much more self-aware with her music and in most cases, does not seem to be affected with peers of similar genres. The single was also catchy for the most part, but does show something that isn't that broad of a topic to for the world. Apart from that, the EP is damn near impressive.
A four-track EP may feed off to people as a lesser deal, but the truth is, it sets up for quite an extensive breach leading up to her debut album, which could come in months or years, and the EP could prove to be the tipping point.
There's a sense of resurgence that Meghan Trainor installs into this EP that doesn't come across as too stylish, too poppy, too shallow nor even too ventured into mainstream. It has the thin line of threading all of the categories, but justifies it as an EP of the current scope of music now.
The tracks Title, Dear Future Husband (which sounds just like Olly Murs' Dance With Me Tonight track, which coincidentally or incidentally, sounds similar to Christina Aguilera's Candyman) and Close Your Eyes all provide solid foundation, hooking melodies (for the first two tracks), and vocals that does not seem to cheat. What do I mean by that?
The reason I believe that this EP was good is because of Meghan Trainor's voice alone. There are no mis-timed vocal inflections nor weird falsettos that jeopardize the tracks nor feel annoying, and there is a sense of confidence and potent songwriting that sticks out and does not seem to be let go. This is in part with straight-forward lyrics and very good instrumentation and production that simply lends to her strengths. Apart from some phrases being cringe-worthy, this is an EP you definitely have to check out.
EP Rating: 4/5
Favourite Tracks: Title, Dear Future Husband, Close Your Eyes
Meghan Trainor's Title EP will possibly raise the ceiling for her debut album, and I am keen to listen to it.
There has been quite a few albums whiz me by in the last couple of weeks (even months), and it's actually quite tough for a reviewer to take. So having since finally drowned out what I wanted to review, and what I don't want to review at all, I've chosen to. Considering the next review is more straight-forward, this review is roughly tricky. The Script's new album, No Sound Without Silence has finally drowned on me, but let's talk about this album, and a band that has softly and slowly, gone missing.
There's a large chunk of audience that still remembers some of the hits by The Script, tellingly their major ones which are We Cry, The Man Who Can't Be Moved and Breakeven; all of which are singles from their debut self-titled album, which their new album is a prequel to. Now, the reason that those singles were so well-known and beloved by fans was because they were the band's breakout hits. It was 2008, which incidentally broke them into the mainstream. Of course, this allowed the follow-up to two albums soon after, and neither have been deadly on-par with their first album, nor even come close to being good. And what's really maddening? The band simply took off in a much more simplistic, streamlined mainstream direction that completely fell flat in my eyes. What's so bad about that direction?
There's a lot of bands associated to renaissance by heading into another direction, and Maroon 5 is a latest example. Yes Maps was a commercial success and Superheroes did not even come close (and you could say Maroon 5 was much more appealing than The Script any day of the week), but what really mattered was whether or not the audience loved it. While I liked the first album, the new singles come across as intimidatingly foreign. They did not seem to have passion nor versatility, both which carved The Script out of their comfort zone completely.
Take for example album #3. The single, Hall of Fame barely scraped the surface of The Script; it lent the voice of Will.I.Am, and while he was trash, the band itself lost focus. There was neither powerful undertone messages (other than the straight-forward one) and the band's precision for tenacity such as instrumentation power was weakened by chunks. When you re-listen to their old hits, there was a theme to it, and while Danny O'Donoghue did had a sense of unique tone, the band carried the tracks, not just the lead singer alone. Undoubtedly, No Sound Without Silence was pretty much the album that The Script did not need.
From the get-go, Superheroes was a messy single. It tried to blend mainstream essence along with guitars that seemed out of place, and parts of raw vocals that just did not fit at all. This made me feel wary of the album on a whole. And going into, the reception was not warm.
There's a lot of struggle this album faces. One of which includes lyrical ineptitude and depth, instrumentation problems and lots of improvement to be made.
To be fair, Danny O'Donoghue does have a lot of space to work his vocals around these songs, especially tracks like The Energy Never Dies and It's Not Right For You. Otherwise, tracks like Flares and Army of Angels truly show the opposite. And don't get me wrong, the drums on the album is very good. Paint the Town Green was a great track that infused a lot of rock sounds, pop melodies and jarring lyrical forwardness that seems to not be found anywhere else on the album. I for one, would love to hear more of tracks like these, but I guess not.
The other problems also include the band's direction: the shift from #3 back to their anthemic, heartfelt melodic rock, felt as if the band had lost touch of their old material somewhere along the way. Never Seen Anything "Quite Like You", Man on a Wire and No Good in Goodbye all seem to sound like solid tracks. But there's the problem there: it's not. They each suffer from lyrical implosion, instrumentation failings and are streamlined to the point of mediocrity. There is nothing likable about any of the tracks that had the topic of love in it. As such was it with the more toned down tracks like Flares and Army of Angels, which I had stapled above. In fact, the ones that worked are Without Those Songs and Hail Rain or Sunshine of which had an underlying message that didn't necessarily needed to speak to the audience.
Now, it may seem like I'm trashing on the album, but I'm not really. Disappointment has been spewing all across this review because I still brand The Script as a band that had fallen off after their first album and had never necessarily peaked again, despite the talents seemingly there. Such of which also includes other bands which I guess you already process and know about.
Favourite Tracks: Pain the Town Green, Without Those Songs, Hail Rain or Sunshine
Least Favourite Tracks: Flares, Army of Angels
The Script's No Sound Without Silence is essentially a step back in a forthcoming direction and undoubtedly, with renewed resonance and energy, I'm not sure if the band can actually turn things around in future albums.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.