Tag Archives: review

Sad Day for Puppets – Pale Silver & Shiny Gold

11 Nov

Sad Day for Puppets is a female fronted Swedish Indie quintet whose sound is based around the mixture of Indie rock and Shoegaze; with some songs leaning more towards one side or the other. Some have even labeled the band as part of the Nu Gaze movement, which is a Shoegaze revival movement, but whether or not it should be considered a separate genre is likely for debate. Released in 2010, this is their sophomore effort.

Unlike some other Shoegaze bands, Sad Day for Puppets don’t bury the vocals under the miasma of fuzz, so vocalist Anna Elkund can be heard very clearly.  Even though they’re a Swedish band, all of their songs are in English, so there’s no language barrier to break through. Also Elkund’s accent is a little thick, but the lyrics are fairly easy to understand. Also many of the songs have more of a traditional pop song structure, with a lot of focus on melody. So unlike some of their contemporaries, their songs get to the point. They skip out on noisy instrumental sections and many times stick to the simple verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge structures. So their songs aren’t exactly as chaotic as My Bloody Valentine, or Astrobrite. Closest to chaos might be their song “Such a Waste.”

Despite the gloomy looking album cover, the overall feeling of the album feels pretty bright and musically upbeat, but the lyrics at times may not be exactly happy. The songs have a variety of dynamics and sounds, so they differ from some of the more traditional shoegaze bands by not focusing on max fuzz in all of their songs. The song “Beads” consists of just vocals and a fingerpicked guitar with some keyboards and woodwinds for atmosphere, and “First Time” consists a slightly distorted guitar with atmospheric sounds. Some of their fuzz focused songs aren’t so fuzzed out, so you can easily hear the guitar melodies within it. So it adds a bit more to the soundscape instead of just focusing on a wall of sound on every single song.

Sad Day for Puppets may not be as “pure” of a sound that other Shoegaze bands, and would serve as a great band to introduce someone into the genre, but that’s not to say they’re a bad band. Their sound of pop melodies mixed with noisy fuzz guitar with Elkund’s vocals are a nice addition to anyone’s library, especially for someone looking for some more female lead music. Though at 37 minutes and at 10 tracks, this might be a bit too short for some people’s likings, but it is also missing any filler material, so consider that a plus.

You can stream the album for free off of their Bandcamp page: http://saddayforpuppets.bandcamp.com/album/pale-silver-shiny-gold

Rating: 5/5

The Replacements – All Shook Down

7 Nov

Just by looking at the cover, All Shook Down looks a bit dreary and it’s easy to see why. It’s the final album from The Replacements, and the cover seems to fit the mood of a band on its last legs. Especially considering that this was actually supposed to be vocalist Paul Westerberg’s first solo album. With its numerous session musicians with only a few tracks featuring the full band, it seems to lack the energy of most of their previous albums. While it lacks infamous anthems like “Left of the Dial”, “Unsatisfied”, and “Here Comes a Regular”, that’s not to say it doesn’t have solid tracks.

Paul Westerberg was more or less a voice of a generation for many college rock fans, and even inspired much of the boom in alternative rock in the 90’s, it seems that along with his audience, Westerberg was growing up. As a 30 year old man, it seems like he knew he was getting too old, and probably too tired to be singing about adolescent angst. This is pretty evident as their albums were progressively getting more mellowed out, almost like he shook out much of the anger he’s had before.

Despite being one of their more mellow albums, it still features typical Westerberg lyrical tropes, like his heart on a sleeve feelings that are largely self depreciating, and misfits trying to find a place Most of the tracks are very acoustic guitar driven, with roughly 3 out of the 4 tracks without them are fully electric with the other one being a piano driven track, with its appropriately titled “the Last”, with its multiple meanings, and strategically being placed as the last track on the last Replacements album. Even the lyrics can almost be interpreted towards being about the listener, especially with the final line: “It’s gotta last for always” is a great final nail in the coffin for a band with such a large legacy.

While definitely not as ambitious or as memorable as albums like Let it Be or Tim, it’s definitely a decent album. So while it won’t cater to fans of their rougher, it does cater to those who are fans of adult alternative rock. With bands like The Wallflowers, and Train, especially with the latter drawing influence from Westerberg’s music. Though in shear honesty, it’s not their best album, but it’s definitely not their worst.

rating 4/5

Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

13 Apr

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – THE 20/20 EXPERIENCE

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The 20/20 Experience

Justin Timberlake

by nastynate

This album already feels like a classic to me. There isn’t a bad song on here.  Every hook is flawless. Most of the beats are great. Most of the lyrics seem sincere. There are few faults to be found. That, of course, doesn’t mean it’s perfect. For example, I found the samples at the beginning of “Tunnel Vision” to be annoying and unnecessary. I thought Jay-Z’s verse on “Suit and Tie” was mediocre at best and felt like he was biting Kanye West’s style (like he hasn’t done that before), minus the actual cleverness. My least favorite song on the album is “Body Count.” The beat was spastic and all over the place and just not very good in general. This song would be much more entertaining if a better instrumental had been chosen/written.

As I listened to the album, I found myself picking a new favorite song after almost every song. After listening to the entire album several times, I’ve narrowed it down to two favorites: “Mirrors” and “Blue Ocean Floor.” “Mirrors” has my favorite hook, and “Blue Ocean Floor” has my favorite instrumental and seems the most sweet and sincere.

Overall, I found this album very appealing and entertaining. I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the standards of JT’s past albums, but it’s actually my favorite thing he’s done so far. At points it was catchy and fun, and at other points it was serious and romantic. I’m probably going to find myself listening to this album many more times.

4.5/5

Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

13 Apr

SMASHING PUMPKINS – SIAMESE DREAM

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Over the years, famous bands from the “Alternative Nation” like Tool, Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam have made their mark on rock history and have influenced many bands and created several copycat bands trying to emulate on their sound. It’s been over 20 years since the Smashing Pumpkins have started and yet, they are still in a realm of their own. Siamese Dream stands as an album unique from their contemporaries.This uniqueness is partially due to singer/guitarist Billy Corgan’s quirky voice, but it also has to do with their unique sound that combines several genres into a sound that clearly states “Smashing Pumpkins”. The fuzzy guitar sounds draws clear inspiration from Shoegaze music with Corgan deliberately choosing  Alan Moulder to mix the album after hearing his famed work mixing the Shoegaze masterpiece Loveless by My Bloody Valentine. Many of the softer sounds also draw clear influences from Dream Pop which is, in many ways, a  sort of “sister genre” to Shoegaze. The Pumpkins don’t just stop there to emulate their dreamy shoegazy heroes, they decide to change the game by adding in aspects of Classic Rock, Heavy Metal, and even  elements of Progressive Rock. This mashup creates sounds that make the journey through Siamese Dream quite a unique journey. With the guitar driven opener of Cherub Rock, to the dreamy relaxing melotron filled song of Luna, this is truly a journey no other band could make.The interesting combination of genres isn’t the only thing that makes this album stand out, the production quality is, to say the least, a landmark of its own. This album can be considered an “overdub masterpiece” with songs like Soma incorporating up to 40 overdubbed guitar parts. This gives songs like Geek USA an even heavier edge, and makes the dreamy sequences of Soma even more luscious.

Geek USA could be considered the centerpiece of the album. It incorporates everything that makes this album unique, from the strange mixture of genres, heavy guitar overdubs, and Jimmy Chamberlin’s fantastic drumming. It starts off as your typical fast rock piece that draws heavy inspiration from metal, but then in the bridge it goes through sort of a genre shift. It’s like they’re having you a slight relaxation in the song. Gone are the heavy guitars and now it’s become a psychedelic dream sequence. After they had you relax in the middle of the song, they bring back the heavy guitars and build up the intensity and finally explodes back to its original tempo with Corgan’s guitar solo that many consider his best.

All in all, Siamese Dream is an album that has stood the test of time with no copycat rivals to make it look cliche like all the Nirvana and Pearl Jam copycats.

Grungie’s rating: 5/5

Paul Westerberg – Stereo/Mono

13 Apr

These are actually 2 different albums released and packaged together. Since they’re technically separate albums I’ll do separate reviews of each disc. Let’s start off with Stereo:

PAUL WESTERBERG – STEREO

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After a few unsuccessful solo attempts, Paul Westerberg (dubbed the king of “Slacker Rock”) decided to say goodbye to studios and session musicians and record and perform everything by himself in his basement. The recordings tend to be a big “crude” since he didn’t fix any imperfections in his songs like the tape running out in the middle of the song. This happens in at least 2 of the songs on the album. Despite the DIY approach to the album the sound quality is actually quite nicer than you would expect. This album has a Bob Dylan feel to it, which is no surprise when you notice that Westerberg’s idol is Bob Dylan. The album is primarily Westerberg singing over one or two guitars and maybe a bass which are remenicent to his previous Mats songs like “Here Comes a Regular”, “Answering Machine” and “You’re Getting Married”. If you’re more of a fan of his raspy voice over upbeat rock songs, proceed to the second disc:
Grungie’s Rating: 5/5 

GRANDPABOY – MONO

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Now Mono is credited to his Grandpaboy alter ego. Grandpaboy is what Westerberg claims is his “hard rock” work, and it’s mostly a reminder of old school blues rock and rock and roll and influenced by his idol Alex Chilton. These songs are more upbeat than Stereo and as the title suggests the songs are in Mono. This album sounds like Westerberg is trying to record an album he wanted to sound like it was recorded in the 60’s with the rough recordings. These songs are more catchy than in Stereo and the music feels less depressing than the Stereo counterpart. The songs would probably remind you of The Replacements album Pleased to Meet Me, though with a rougher recording edge. Similar to much of his work, his lyrics are self depreciation and of failed love.
Grungie’s Rating: 4/5