Weezer – Maladroit

21 Sep

Maladroit is sort of a forgotten album among Weezer fans, everyone talks about the Blue Album and Pinkerton and a few rungs down you’ll hear praise for the Green Album and most critics would then consider anything past those three as a lost cause.  Most people talk about their distaste for Make Believe, Red Album, and Hurley. Anything afterwards is at the point where people stopped keeping up with Weezer, but nobody talks about Maladroit. It seems most people go from Green Album and skip straight to Make Believe, it’s like everyone seems to have forgotten this album. But is this album worth listening to if people have forgotten it?

Maladroit has a bit of a hybrid sound when compared to some of their other albums, it’s sort of like a progression from the Green Album and mixes it with some aspects of the previous albums. It has the poppier aspects of Green, and mixes it with the edge and agression of Pinkerton and Blue. With the hybrid sound between “new” (at the time) and old Weezer, it throws in some of the heaviest riffs of their career. Even the guitars are thicker and crunchier compared to the previous releases.

Musically there’s plenty of fun guitar work, while there’s still a bit of simple three or four powerchord wank like of their typical style, but they have some interesting guitar lines and some pretty good solos. It does seem that there’s lots of overdubbing in the songs to give either the riffs a thicker sound, or a bigger bite to the solos. Lyrically it may not be fantastic, but Weezer lyrics were usually not anything many people would write about, so unless you’re a lyric snob, you shouldn’t be too worried about the lyrical quality of the album.

The biggest letdown of the album is the running time, at barely over half an hour with 13 tracks, and the longest song is 3:09, you can feel a bit disappointed and wanting more out of a few songs, wishing they were a bit longer. So with some songs feeling a bit underdeveloped, the album is still a very solid listening and is probably one of the most underrated aspects in the Weezer catalog and a must listen for a Weezer fan who wants more to Weezer than the first 3 albums.

Grungie’s rating 4/5

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Bringing Heavy Music to MTB, pt. 1: In Honor Of

3 Sep

Welcome to “Bringing heavy music to MTB”! This new column on our beloved MTB is meant to feature new bands or bring bands to your attention, with a focus on heavy bands (Hardcore, Metalcore, Metal, etc.) that you should check out! The band featured today is called “In Honor Of”, who are a Metalcore band from Connecticut.

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Lineup:

Vocals – Brandon Podlisny
Guitar – Dave Pazik
Guitar/Vocals – Joe DiPalma
Drums – Nabeel Nassar
Bass – Kevin “Flakes” Jacques

Brief history:
In Honor Of are fairly new. The band was founded a year ago by their drummer Nabeel and guitarist Dave.  About 7 months ago, Nabeel and Dave formed a full band with the rest of the guys and released their first single. They recently released their debut EP “Iron Giant” in July.

Since then, they feel as though they have only grown as better musicians. Being such a new band, they had an explosive first show and have only gotten better from there. The band were 2nd in their state in Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands, which is pretty exciting.

Albums/EPs:

In Honor Of's "Iron Giant" EP

In Honor Of’s “Iron Giant” EP

Available for name your price at http://inhonorof.bandcamp.com/.
What I like About Them:

I’m particularly fond of the way this band uses pianos in their Metalcore compositions and are quite good at adding accompany melody to their heavy riffs. They also make good use of Hardcore-style breakdowns. Melodic choruses round out heavy songs. Truly a treat for the ears of those looking for something new in heavy music!

And that’s it for my first band feature! Look for our more bands to be featured soon!

— Contact rocklikeafool at http://musictalkboard.icyboards.net/member.php?action=profile&uid=29.

(∆) Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

1 Aug

 

Alt-J is a British Indie quartet named after the Mac command ∆ and this is their debut full length album. Heralded by many critics as the next Radiohead, An Awesome Wave is a very eclectic album, albeit quirky at times.

An Awesome Wave at its base is an electronic rock album that blends in aspects of folk and psychedelic rock and sung with vocalist Joe Newman’s nasal voice. They follow a standard guitar, drums, keyboard aspect, but their unique sound is incorporated by having some of the songs missing either the bassline, and/or the bass drum. The band claims this sound came about from practicing in their university dorms, and the bass would have been too much of a disturbance. That is not to say that the bass is missing from the entire album. Some songs like Fitzpleasure has a thick synthesized bassline that overpowers the rest of the mix, while Tessellate features your standard bass guitar lines.

Despite having a standard band setup, there’s a wide variety of sounds that go into play. While a lot of the diversity in the various sounds is largely done through they keyboardist, if you watch some of the live performances, it shows that he isn’t the entire backbone of the band. For a band that’s an odd mixture of electronic rock, it features some guitar playing that isn’t really standard for the genre, this is where the folk rock aspect comes into play. There’s a large bit of twang involved in some of the guitar playing, and much of the guitar work is fingerpicked. The second guitarist is incorporated in quite interesting ways when it’s present in the songs. The second guitarist is largely there to add more texture to the songs to add more diversity with what they keyboards are already doing. This is all played magnificently over the drums which play some very interesting beats which can at times make you think is a drum machine, but if you see it live, it’s all done with your standard drum set.

I think the first thing people will tend to notice about Alt-J is the quirkyness of the vocals. Some of the songs just feature Newman’s voice  just being a nasal pitch which some might find unappealing. Then there’s a few scenes in the songs where the other members join in with singing with strange vocal chants likes “please don’t go please don’t go, I love you so I love you so” in Breezeblocks and the “tralalala” opening in Fitzpleasure, or the acapella interlude, leaves some listeners scratching their heads wondering what the hell they’re listening to. This is also one of the few times you’ll hear a sniff used strategically in a song.

Lyrically, this is not the album’s strongpoint, but as you stroll through the album, you’ll realize that the lyrics aren’t the actual focus of the song and are really there to add texture to the mix. If you tried to decipher the lyrics, you’ll be wondering why they’re singing about triangles being their favorite shape. There will also be times where you won’t even know what the singer is saying.

For many, An Awesome Wave is going to be an album where people leave loving the album, or one of those where you’ll be wondering what the hell you just heard and feeling that there was something that you just didn’t get.

Grungie’s rating 5/5

Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary

28 Jun

Sunny Day Real Estate’s debut album is a landmark in the punk subgenre of Emo. The influence of this and the followup LP2 (or self titled depending on which catalog you’re looking at) are still felt in the genre a decade after their release, and helped redefine the second wave of Emo in the 90’s. With their sound, SDRE successfully mixed the sounds of Post-Hardcore with Indie Rock and mashed it together with personal and confessional lyrics, much like the title states, a diary.

While SDRE are from Seattle and this album was around during the Grunge heyday, there is a divergence from the Seattle sound. While the album has some Grunge cliche’s like having the dynamics between the loud distorted chorus and the quiet verses, it diverges a lot and the quieter and mellow moments of the song are the main focuses of many of the songs. The only song on the album that could really pass off as a Grunge song would be In Circles.

Musicanshipwise, the band is pretty talented. The guitarwork isn’t fantastic, but they fit the music very well, but they aren’t the focus of many of the songs; the rhythm section is the highlight of their music. Bassist Nate Mendel is a fantastic bassist, his basslines aren’t difficult on a technical level, but they tend to be quite melodic and can tend to fit when the emotions of the song spiral around, and he also has restraint. Instead of spending the entire album showing off his skills, he is able to find the right time and place to show off his bass playing while in other parts he can focus on just playing root notes when the part of the song calls for it. The drummer William Goldsmith is a beast at the drums. His drumming style can be monstrous and chaotic like in Seven, and can be very soft and mellow like in Song for an Angel. Like bassist Mendel, he knows the perfect moment to show off his drum fills, and when to restrain himself for either a softer performance. If the names Nate Mendel and William Goldsmith sound familiar, it’s because they were in the Foo Fighters. Goldsmith was only around for a few recordings and music videos, but Mendel is a full member of the band and has appeared in all of their albums since their second one.

Lyrically, they have a very poetic feel, especially when you sit down and read them. Vocalist Jeremy Enigk has a very nasal voice which may drive away some people, but if you can get past his quirky voice, it suits the music very well. It can be difficult at times deciphering what he’s saying. The vocals, at times, can be  mixed low into the song, and even during the mellow parts, his voice is still  quite soft at times. Despite the lyrics being confessional, a  lot of the focus of the songs are on the actual music than on the lyrics.

This is a must have for those who are fond of Post-Hardcore and a definite for any Emo fan.

Grungie’s rating: 5/5

Sigur Rós- Kveikur

20 Jun

Kveikur, the seventh full length album from the Icelandic post-rock group, sees the band depart from their typical sound. It is released just over a year after their first post-hiatus album, Valtari, which was criticised by many fans for being more of the same.

This release is far from being more of the same. Kveikur takes the band in a heavier, but simpler direction. It is notable for being the first release since the departure of multi-instrumentalist Kjartan Sveinsson and their first release as a trio since their 1997 début, Von. In contrast to the thinned out production of 2008’s Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust, Kveikur is arguably the most over-produced album the band has released, using a similar production style to Valtari. The use of reverb is even more extensive on this album than any of their past work, and there is a greater influence of electronic elements.

Kveikur shows a change in dynamic within the band itself. The three remaining members gain the spotlight more often they did in the past, especially percussionist Orri Páll Dýrason and bassist Georg Holm, who shine more here than on any past Sigur Rós album. Lead singer and guitarist Jónsi continues to perform well with his signature falsetto vocals and bowed guitar playing. The ambient driven sections and orchestral arrangements remain important to the band’s music, but this time around the songs are shorter with more emphasis on the rock instrumentation.

The songs on this album can, for the most part, be divided into two categories: heavier, industrial influenced rock songs and more easy-listening, pop-oriented songs. ‘Brenninstein’ opens the album with a bang, instantly making it clear that the band have taken a new direction. ‘Hraftinna’, one of the band’s best songs to date and the best song on the album, continues with a ballad song structure and less focus on electronics. This song continues the trend of pounding electric guitars, bass, and drums, but features an interesting assortment of percussion instruments, and the most prominent string and horn arrangements on the album. The song ends with a simple, but haunting horn section that adds a nice sense of closure to the song. The title track, ‘Kveikur’ is the final of the industrial driven songs, coming in a little over the halfway mark. It is similar to ‘Hrafntinna’, but is faster-paced, almost capable of competing with the famous ‘Untitled 8’  for the ‘heaviest song’ title if the song had a more interesting build up.

In between these heavy tracks are the gleeful, pop tracks. These are more aggressive than past Sigur Ros ‘pop songs’ in that they are shorter, have more explosive choruses, and use the most standard song structures in their entire discography. ‘Isjaki’ has the best example of an ‘explosive chorus’ on the album (arguably from their entire career), while ‘Stormur’ is the most mellow of them, almost a throwback to previous Sigur Rós songs by utilising pretty glockenspiel melodies and the most traditional guitar playing on the album. ‘Rafstraumur’ is sonically captivating, but at times almost feels like generic, ‘uplifting’, advertisement music. It is well performed, but something a bit more creative would be expected from Sigur Rós.

In addition to the heavy and pop tracks, there are those that stand on their own. ‘Yfirborð’ is placed in between ‘Isjaki’ and ‘Stormur’, functioning as a darker, mellower break between the album’s two most blissful tracks. This song was criticised for being underwhelming by many fans who first saw it performed live. While not exploding like other tracks on the album, this song is great in its own way, making interesting use of electronic instruments and being a good song to listen to on proper headphones. ‘Bláþráður’ initially seemed compositionally weak and predictable, but the dramatic pacing and pulsating drums make it a grower. The only downfall is the generic atmospheric section at its closure that has no real purpose. The album finishes with ‘Var’, a short piano outro in the style of several past compositions, designed to evoke a wide variety of emotions at the close of the album. This trick is just as effective here as it has been in the past.

Kveikur is an album that shows Sigur Rós becoming a more accessible, ‘normal’ band, but this does not mean they have given up on the experimentation they are known for. The band is as experimental as ever, just in a different way. This is a solid release filled with wonderful songs, but is not quite as interesting as past releases such as Takk… and Ágætis byrjun. Despite that, Sigur Rós have found a new, more conventional style that they excel at during a time when fans were not sure how much longer the band could continue composing consistently great music in their usual style.

carlcockatoo’s rating: 4.5/5