Friday, June 4, 2010

Jimi Hendrix: Valleys of Neptune

If there is one thing that you must know about me is that I absolutely love Jimi Hendrix. I have a ton of his albums and also videos of him playing the Monterey festival and Woodstock 69'. One of my good friends played a video clip of him performing "Killing Floor" at the Monterey Festival and after that I was sold on him. Like Julian Casablancas, Jimi Hendrix inspired me to sing and embrace my "true singing voice". He didn't have a whiny voice and he sang and wrote from the heart. Watching him sing and play guitar is so unreal because everything seems so easy and natural to him.

Like several artists, Jimi Hendrix has a bunch of unreleased material that is still floating around. I thought it was strange to hear a new Tupac song every once in a while, so when I heard this album was going to be released I had to check it out. Articles said it was some of of the material that never made it to Electric LadyLand so it's basically a B sides album. This album sounds like another one of Jimi Hendrix's studio albums. If you are a huge Jimi fan you will love this album. "Fire", "Hear my train coming", and 2 or 3 others are redone and sound better than they do on previous albums. Jimi also covers Cream's "Sunshine of your Love" and makes it an instrumental jam. The new songs you have to look forward to on this album are just "Lover Man" and "Valleys of Neptune". I think the other songs are just remastered.

As in skill wise Jimi Hendrix still delivers in this album. "Bleeding Heart" has a continuos rythm line and goes into a classic face melting hendrix solo. Another great solo on this album is on "Hear my Train Coming". Towards the end of the song hendrix plays and sings the guitar solo. Actually after listening he does that alot in this song. If you want to hear the bluesy side of Hendrix "Ships Passing through the Night" is a good choice. Of course he decided to keep his trio of Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding. Mitch Mitchell still lays down crazy drum beats that sounds like drum fills 60% of the time. He does use in Billy cox for some songs. Billy Cox eventually joined Hendrix in his group a Band of Gypsies. I wasn't let down when this album came out. I give it a B+ because it being a "new album" it still sounds like classic Hendrix and that was a small letdown for me. Listen and be in awe!
-Calvin Dugan

Julian Casablancas: Phrazes for the Young

Up until now, I have always enjoyed the music of Julian Casablancas. His work with the Strokes was incredible and he helped produced many songs that I have come to love. I still blast "Last Night" and "Reptillia" until I go deaf. Julian actually got me into singing in the first place because he made me realize that you didn't have to have "a voice like an angel" to sing. His solo album "Phrazes For The Young" definitely goes in a completely different direction than most of The Strokes' songs. It seemed like this album uses just as much synth as a Flock of Seagulls album.

Julian Casablancas' has a very unique sound to his voice. I would even be as bold to compare his voice to Janis Joplins'. Both voices are very harsh and have a grittiness to them. In The Strokes' first two albums he used a filter and kept a rough distorted sound to his voice. The singing on this album sounds like he didn't smoke 10 packs of cigs and down half a bottle of SOCO. All of it sounds very clean with just a little reverb on his voice. On tracks like "Out of the Blue" and "River Brakelights" his voice seems untouched. The instrumentation in this album sounds purely electronic with loads of synthesizer and maybe faint guitar parts. I say faint because there is one recognizable guitar solo in "Glass".

I think this album is complete garbage and I didn't like it at all. I am a huge Strokes fan and of Julian Casablancas, but this album just sucked. For his very first solo album he only wrote 8 songs, promoted with ridiculous poppy light shows, and produced a new type of "sell out sound." When I loaded this album in my itunes library it was listed under the "New Wave" genre. WTF?!? Are we listening to Yanni or something? Just as bad. This is basically a pop/electronica Strokes album. There are like only 2 songs that are good on this whole On top of that the new Strokes album isn't going to be released until January 2011, so until then we have this garbage to listen to. C-.
-Calvin Dugan

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Fall of Troy: In the Unlikely Event

The Fall of Troy has is now officially fallen. I was going through music on my library and decided to listen to then some today. This is music you jam to when you're trying to get ready for the day. I wanted to find some news out on The Fall of Troy seeing if they were working on anything new and found out some shocking truth. After some research (doesn't research make it sound professional?) I found out the band has officially broken up . The Fall of troy was definitely a unique hardcore band.

I got on the Fall of Troy bandwagon when I played there song "F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X." on guitar hero 3. After hearing this song I had to check out their other stuff. Surprisingly this band is pretty good. The Fall of Troy falls under a sub genre of hardcore rock called mathcore. All the genre mathcore is, is hardcore rock but they use more complex rhythms. An example of this is instead of tapping your foot to 4 it often changes to 6, 4, 2, 3.... Alright enough of the music theory babble let's talk the album.

This album is the first and last with their new bassist. Their sound hasn't changed that much compared to their last album. I will say their lead singer Thomas Erak is more comfortable with his natural singing voice. In their past albums it seemed like all he would do was scream. In "Dirty Pillow Talk" he teams up with Rody Walker from Protest the Hero and is more lyrical with his singing. Oh yea that's another great band check it out. Of course the guitar parts are still unpredictable, breakdowns at least twice a song, and Erak still has crazy fast tapping solos that you make you s^%$ your pants. To hear a more traditional sounding Fall of Troy listen to "Straight Jacket Keelhaud". It saddens my heart when I hear of a good band breaking up. B+ because I think "Manipulator", the album before this one was a little better.
-Calvin Dugan

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

B. o. B.: The Adventures of Bobby Ray

Next post is by one of my good childhood friends RJ Sudlow. I've never heard of this artist and I told him if he wanted to write about him some to do it. Well He did. Check out this artist he sold me with this article.
-Calvin Dugan

"You got two names: you got B.o.B aka Bobby Ray. I don't know if your name is B.o.B, aka, or Bobby Ray...what are you going to come out with next? Rob?"
-The Biz, May 25th Mixtape

With B.o.B himself acknowledging the difficulty some people have with grasping the idea of having multiple aliases, he decides to simply say his name, B.o.B, stands for Bob. After hitting the scene in 2006 with the single "Cloud 9", B.o.B has taken the spotlight and never turned it off. With the release of "I'll Be in the Sky", B.o.B has taken what was traditional rap soaked in the "same old, same old" and wrung it out, leaving only the bare essentials: hard bass, capturing melodies, and deep lyrics on his new album, "The Adventures of Bobby Ray".

For anyone who hasn't heard of B.o.B's music, imagine it as just that - music. He's not a rapper, he's a musician who takes time and focuses on the finer aspects in the composition of his tracks. After his single "Nothin' on You", it would have been easy for people to dismiss him as a simple one-hit wonder after making a little splash. Next came "Airplanes" featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore to bring in a refreshing chorus that STILL is getting thousands of spins all over the radio. Now people are starting to get interested in this B.o.B guy - only to hear his new single, "Magic" as the next song they hear all day, every day.

What I'm trying to say is this: B.o.B has completely changed the way people are going to look at Hip-Hop. It's no longer about the whole "she said, he said, autotune, baby-back bullshit" - it's all about the music. It's something that catches people by surprise when they listen to his album. It seems so simple to create music that feels good, but it's proven hard lately for some reason. B.o.B has an amazing knack for singing his own hooks, and for creating some amazing lyrics. With tracks like "Don't Let Me Fall", "Airplanes", "Ghost in The Machine", "The Kids", and "Magic", this album will have to go down as one of the best albums of all time. End of story. One year from now when the music executives has squeezed every last dollar from him they can, we can then look back and say, "Damn, that was good." Even his mixtapes have the quality of a studio album - look up "Don't Break my Heart" or "Not Lost" if you doubt me.

The thing about this album is that you can listen to it in any sitting - there's more musical influences on this album than I even care to list. I can't tell you how this music makes me feel because that's a journey that you're going to have to take for yourself. Buy this album please; I'm not an anti-torrent Nazi, but I love supporting artists that deserve it. And B.o.B is definitely one of those artists.
-RJ Sudlow

Muse: The Resistance

I love writing about bands that I love. I was introduced to Muse 3 or 4 years ago from a friend (Tommy Miserendino and of course Ivan Martinez hyped them up) and I was sold. Yea that's right I was listening to Origin of Symmetry before you were nodding your head to the stuff that's on the Twilight Movies. Yes. That does make me cooler. I am a bigger fan of their older albums but I have to give credit where it's due. Their most recent album "The Resistance" is damn good.

When I first heard a couple of songs on this album I was on the fence big time. Then Tommy Miserendino, a die hard Muse fan, told me this, "...I mean its not even a matter of if it(the album) sucks it's an evolution album for the band. They aren't the same band." He is sooo right. Their older sound was more band oriented. Most songs were bass driven, had guitar solos with crazy effects, and drum beats that'll make your heart beat faster. Now there are sustained synth lines, and remnants of a band are hard to hear at times.

All the songs on this album are good in my opinion. In "I Belong To You" There is a clarinet solo. Really?!?! My three favorite on this album have to be "Uprising", "Undisclosed Desires", and the three movements of their "Exogenesis Symphony". "Uprising" one of their first singles has a fat bass line with big leaps that just sounds awesome. This song still sounds like Muse still with the traditional set up of guitar, bass, drums and vocals. "Undisclosed Desires" is more of a taste of Muse's new sound. More electronic sounding and effects on the voice. The Symphony is just ridiculous. Too awesome for words. I just hope that if they perform it live someday it is with a real orchestra. Sit down and listen to this album right now. A++!!

-Calvin Dugan (Shout to Tommy Miserendino and Ivan Martinez!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Kills: Keep On Your Mean Side

If you are a fan of nasty, dirty, hmmm can't even describe it garage punk please check out this band The Kills. They have to be right now the embodiment of garage punk. I usually write about newer stuff but their album "Keep On Your Mean Side" from 2003 is gold. I have listened to this album at least 4 to 5 times today. I'm listening to it right now as I'm writing this! I guarantee you'll want to jump or just punch something after listening to them.

The Kills is made up of just 2 people. The female singer Alison Mosshart and guitarist Jamie Hince are a perfect combo. Their sound reminds me a lot of what The White Stripes sounded like when they first started out a while ago. Almost every track on their album is a song with a simple rhythmic guitar line, really muddy distortion, and great lyrics. Their song "Pull a U" is pretty how the album sounds. I wish a lot of band's that started on the garage scene went back to this strong core band sound.

As you can probably tell I think this is one of the greatest bands ever. Other songs that are awesome on their album are "Fried my little Brains" and "Cat Claw". No question about it I'm giving this album an A. If you like this album a lot and what to see how their sound changed (for better or worse) check out their other albums "No Wow" and "Midnight Boom". This is a band I probably will be talking to my kids when I'm about 60. Their name is fitting because their music kills!

Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest

Grizzly Bear has to be one of my newest favorite bands. Yes they have been around for a while but the first time I've heard them was the summer of 2009. I was at a "get together" and was told by 2 people that this was an "awesome " band. So "awesome" that when I informed them I never heard a song by them they flipped out. I then was rushed to the closet car and for the first time I heard Grizzly Bear. They weren't lying. Grizzly Bear is a great band.

Grizzly Bear is a little different compared to the music I usually listen to. A die hard Strokes, Hives, Chili Peppers fan their band sound was completely different. Their dreamlike semi-acoustic sound draws in many listeners. I would say their sound can be categorized as a new psychedelic sound. The music isn't the only unique thing about the band but the videos are also. "Two Weeks" includes heads exploding towards the end and "Ready Able" bizarre clay creatures. This band by all means is no longer "Underground". Grizzly Bear has been praised by artists such as Jay Z, Radiohead, and many others.

"Two weeks", one of their first singles from Veckatimest gained popularity quick and is even featured in a Volkswagen commercial. Driven by a steady piano line it guarantees your foot won't sit still. I'm not going to lie though, after a while this album gets repetitive. After three or four songs in you can expect an acoustic line backed with ambient sounds. You can't forget to add the floaty vocals often layered in two or three parts. This is pretty much true for most of the album and all their singles. Despite the repetitiveness I still like this album and listen to it often. Ehh I'd give it a B-. I think for this band to be even more successful they might need to change their concept of their sound slightly.