Album Reviews

SNOWDOGS : "Deep Cuts, Fast Remedies" (Victory)
 
{short description of image}Deep cuts, fast remedies is a musically diverse and lyrically pessimistic (in a good way) second album from the London threesome.Lyrical topics range from the angst of unrequited love, to Bonnie and Clyde couples, to the everyday tragedies of living.Though clichéd at times, they are often thought provoking.being an ardent fan of tempo changes in music, Snowdogs captured my heart.Rarely have I heard such musical diversity on an entire album, much less one song.The horns on "Hour of Sunshine" lend the album it's lone ska sound, while the accordion and mellow tone of "End of the World" made me feel as though I was listening to a folk album.Many of the tracks have an 80s feel to them, and "Drive!" reminds me of a number of my favorite 80s tunes, but adds to them in such a way that I couldn't name any of them. "Freedom for Everyone"has a chorus sung by children, and "Your Sorry Ass" is a fuck you anthem with great lyrics matched by awesome vocals.Ville Leppanen's voice often works as its own instrument over the others.If I'm not completely sold yet, it won't take much convincing. If you only listen to the first track of "Deep Cuts, Fast Remedies" by Snowdogs, chances are you'll write them off as yet another Blink-182, pop-punk carbon copy whose music is indistinguishable from countless others. Give them more than one track, however, and you're bound to be surprised by the band's variety of sound and strong songwriting capabilities. Get past the okay-but-been-there-done-that opening track, "Average Kid," and you'll find things to like on this CD. "Freedom for Everyone" is tongue-in-cheek musically - with a strange little rap / Limp Bizkit buzz behind it - but the lyrics, even though delivered in an almost comical nature, are an anthem that could have been penned by someone from PETA. "Boy in the Bubble" is reminiscent of the Clash. "Hour of Sunshine" is a bouncy, almost ska-number. "Hell Outta Dodge," as its name suggests, is a harder-driving rocker. "Your Sorry Ass" is another blazing track, perhaps the hardest on the CD. Snowdogs may not be for everyone, however. The band isn't really punk, isn't really hard rock and sure as hell aren't metal. But they do rock. The band they remind me most of is a hipper version of The Knack. .


Noise Therapy : Tension on Virgin Records
 
{short description of image}Rundown: Noise Therapy reunited last year to record Tension, a powerful new release from this Vancouver-based quintet. With a roster of stunning, edgy tracks, Noise Therapy have proven they have a firm grip on the ever-shifting borders of the rock world. Key Tracks: "G-Hole" stands out as the first track on the album to adequately showcase Dave Ottoson's raw, emotionally-charged vocal stylings. The more up-tempo "Ride" teeters on the edge of mediocrity, but Noise Therapy raises the bar again with "Far Away," a heavy track about the limits of uncertainty.
Sounds Like: Obvious comparisons rise between Noise Therapy and bands like Linkin Park and Alien Ant Farm, but these guys are more than just an amalgamation of various nu-metal sounds. Noise Therapy manages to successfully incorporate their own feelings and experiences into the music, producing a sound that is both real and their own..


The Vandals : Internet Dating Superstuds
 
{short description of image}The music on Internet Dating Superstuds is as fast paced and funny as your first sexual experience with your cousin. I mean, this isn’t Black Sabbath, but then again, it isn’t supposed to be either -- their guitarist, Warren Fitzgerald, actually contributed to the Tenacious D disc last year. Although their background is primarily punk related with the Dickies being a major influence, any metalhead should be able to appreciate the rhythms and the quick-witted lyrics. Songs like “Soccer Mom,” “Disproportioned Head,” and “My Brother Is Gay” are all high on satire and irony and which makes them the perfect compliment to sludgy guitars and angst-ridden screams. It doesn’t mean it’s any less masculine, it just means that it’s different. In this case, the difference it a good thing. Punk by definition is supposed to be music that is severely lacking in both musicianship and song structure. Although listening to Internet Dating Superstuds won’t evoke any images of Joe Satriani playing a Dream Theatre epic, there is still something to be said of songs that don’t last six or seven minutes or contain insanely complex guitar solos lasting longer than ninety seconds. The whole idea behind the Vandals is that a lyric can be both amusing and cerebral at the same time without being as superfluous or disposable as a Weird Al song. Basically, if you listen to this band long enough, you begin to realize that everything doesn’t always have to be so damn serious all the time -- I mean, think about it -- sometimes it’s okay to fall in love with a soccer mom -- I mean, as long as she has big tits, a mini van and a couple dozen orange slices. Long live the Vandals.


The Charlatans : Wonderland
 Label: MCA
{short description of image}Alone among their baggy contemporaries, The Charlatans have survived with dignity intact. Although not immune to the crime, indulgence and sheer bad luck that has bedevilled the ex-Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, the Tim Burgess-fronted quintet seems to bounce back stronger every time. After the surprise treat of 1999's Dylan-esque Us And Us Only, The Charlatans have reinvented themselves once again: as a rock-dance act. Sound familiar? Not a bit of it. Wonderland, their seventh album, is no bug-eyed baggy retread. Produced by Danny Sabre of Black Grape fame, it's an effortless melding of Stones and Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield and computers, all topped off with Tim Burgess's fetching new falsetto. If their last album was testament to the power of love (Burgess was then newly wed), Wonderland is testament to a more carnal power. The Charlatans sound sexy and there's a breath-taking physicality from the swaggering opener You're So Pretty – We're So Pretty through to the sleazy Is It In You? A Man Needs To Be Told is almost too much: trembly falsetto, aching steel guitar and liquid piano to weaken the toughest of knees. With every track a winner, Wonderland is a truly thing of wonder.
Songs included--You're So Pretty - We're So Pretty Judas Love Is The Key A Man Needs To Be Told I Just Can't Get Over Losing You Bell And The Butterfly And If I Fall Wake Up Is It In You? Ballad Of The Band Right On Love To You

Les Claypool : Live Frogs - Set 1
{short description of image} Les Claypool has once again taken his talents and surrounded himself with an electric group of musicians to form Les Claypool's Frog Brigade featuring former members of Primus and other Bay Area musicians. The band recorded Live Frogs Set 1 over two nights at The Great American Music Hall and mixed the songs without the aid of studio wizardry Claypool's sturdy bass lines lead. Despite the tightness of the band, there's a '70s free-jam feel to much of the material, in part because live albums were so much in vogue at that time, and in part due to the choice of the material, such as covers of King Crimson and Pink Floyd. The Frog Brigade through seven funk-riddled songs averaging nine-and-a-half minutes in length. Songs like "Riddles Are Abound Tonight" and "Shattering Song" from Claypool's Sausage project are given new life with rich keyboards and saxophone. The band takes these, as well as Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," grabs them by the ear, and leads them through experimental improvisations that stray from the original versions, resulting in a superbly tight, chaotic recording. In summary, it's difficult to categorize the outfit. They can all play the daylights out of their instruments, and are often given the chance to shine, as they do.



Crossbreed : synthetic division
{short description of image} Crossbreed, a industrial/goth/groovecore band from the Tampa area gives us their first national debut and with it they have spawned comparisons to NIN and the like, but after hearing their album in its entirety I'd say they moved beyond the standard goth cliche. This album easly has enough uniqueness to stand on its own and not be classfied as any one genre but instead as something differnt. I suggest anyone looking for something new thats about to take over the world, check this out. That is a wonderful album as well, but I think that their talent really shines through on this one. This effort is a large step toward a perfected sound. Much more polished and clean than their last one. The work that they put into it really shines through. But what amazes me even more than that is how original and unique their sound is. It is a mixture of many styles, including the rare industrial element. I think that a band that has incorperated it into their sound as well as this band has deserves some recognition.. Keep your eye on these guys, because I think they're going to be the next huge thing



BLUE MEANIES: The Post Wave

{short description of image} This Chicago-based band are making their major label debut after two well-received indie albums, and deservedly so. Behind the Johnny Lydon-esque vocals of Billy Spunke, these ska-punkers don't limit itself to blowing their horns and shouting "Oi!" They push the envelope by weaving in keyboards, slide guitar, a good old-fashioned Hammond B3 organ, and even megaphones! Nevertheless, The Blue Meanies never lose their grip on their rock and roll attitude. Mamma Getting High On Chardonnay is an instant trailer trash anthem, Big Brother Is Watching is actually heavy, Employee 00765 is properly psychotic, Creepy is precisely that. Kudos to producer Phil Nicolo for preventing everything from flying out of control. Hardcore ska-punksters will probably take offense, but if you're more adventurous than that, there's never a dull moment.

Deftones-White Pony

{short description of image} If you're in the mood to mosh, 1995's Adrenaline and '97's Around the Fur are better choices. For a different Deftones journey, however, delve into this diverse, dynamic, and heady album sans preconceived notions and let White Pony take you on a wondrous ride. The album is absolutely wonderful not just for its frenzy of musical instruments that take you up and down like a roller-coaster but because of Chino Moreno's outstanding lyrics. He believes that lyrics should have an intrinsic as well as extrinsic effect on an individual and its obvious. All of the tracks leave you with an eery ambiguity that can seldom be accounted for by many artists perhaps with the exception of "Tool," whose lead singer makes a cameo on "Passenger." It seems as if the band has found a median of harmony where they are comfortable instead of the pragmatist approach of their 1995 Gold album "Adrenaline." Stand-out tracks include "Feiticira," "Digital Bath," "RX Queen," "Knife Party," "Korea," and "Passenger." I only mentioned those because those are the STAND-OUT tracks, the rest are still pretty damn good. Unless you like the mundane excuses for rock music today-yes, I am talking about Limp Bizkit and Korn-then I suggest you flip out your wallet and order this album otherwise you will be infected with the dreaded disease of simplicity that rock music embellishes so much. If you like GOOD rock music, you'll love Deftones.

Amelia's Dream - Love Tattoo

{short description of image}Love Tatoo was recorded between spring 1998 and spring 1999, and features Amelia on vocals, Harold Stephan on keyboards and synthesizer programming, Ben Butler on guitar, Jon Ossman on bass and Tom Curiano on drums. (Watch a documentary video clip under "Love Tattoo" on the Love Tattoo enhanced CD) Other guest musicians include Marc Shulman, Julian Coryell, Carol Sharar, Cenovia Cummings, Maria Umbach and Frank Mortillaro. The title "Love Tattoo" is a lyric from a song on the CD that Amelia and Harold wrote for each other with the help of hit songwriter Stephanie Lewis. The fresh sound of Love Tattoo caught the ears of TV's ESPN2, when they licensed "Evil Ways" for broadcast during the summer 1999 Xtreme Games. "Evil Ways" is a remake of the classic 1969 cut by Santana, which Amelia's Dream recorded for the Austin Powers sequel "The Spy Who Shagged Me". The song was nearly used in the Austin Powers soundtrack (picture the opening credits with "Evil Ways" playing), but stiff competition from multi-platinum artists like Madonna and Lenny Kravitz kept it out. Time Out NY Magazine freelance writer Ivor Hanson has written "Amelia's sultry and seductive 'Evil Ways' deftly meshes pouty passion with down-town cool, updating the Santana chestnut and making it truly her own." The New York City-based duo Amelia's Dream consists of vocalist Amelia and keyboardist/vocalist Harold Stephan. The group's blend of folk-pop and electronica debuted in 1996 with Here In The Rage, and consistent gigs at clubs like the Mercury Lounge, the Knitting Factory and the Bitter End and appearances at events like the NYC Marathon and AIDS Walk '99 earned them a strong local following. Their second album Love Tattoo was released in 1999 on Ripe & Ready Records. ~ Heather Phares, All Music Guide. Amelia's Dream has appeared on several cable TV shows (view clips from these shows in "Here In The Rage" and "Love Tattoo" on the Love Tattoo enhanced CD) and has been invited to be the featured artist in many well known events including: The NYC Marathon (performing for over 35,000 people), The AIDS Walk '99, The Feast of Saint Anthony in Greenwich Village, NXNE Music Festival in Toronto, Canada and The Philadelphia Music Conference. Amelia's Dream has brought breathtaking performances to such exciting NYC club stages as: The Mercury Lounge, The Bitter End, Life, CB's Gallery, and The Knitting Factory, to name a few. Look for upcoming live shows in your town.

Rage Against The Machine - Battle Of Los Angeles

{short description of image}{short description of image} Rage Against the Machine emerges in peak form with merely their third album in seven years. Guitarist Tom Morello is one of the most distinctive and innovative players of his era, and his foil, vocalist/lyricist Zack De La Rocha, is as unrelenting and inspiring as ever on The Battle of Los Angeles. Rage, whose past antics include performing naked with duct tape over their mouths to protest censorship, released Battle on Election Day, but the politics of the group can be separated from the sounds. Indeed, the 45 minutes of mayhem heard here can be enjoyed solely as rousing aggro hip-hop rock. There's more variety found on Battle than on its predecessors, however. "Sleep Now in the Fire" is one of their most straight-ahead rock tunes. They have maintained a sound that they have been able to expand on with simplicity, control and style. Their styles blend together perfectly in The Battle of Los Angeles, proving why they are one of the most dominant bands in the business.


Stone Temple Pilots - No. 4

{short description of image}{short description of image} This fine band's powerful music has been often overshadowed by singer Scott Weiland's well-documented drug and legal troubles. Not to mention that STP's 1992 debut, Core, was dismissed by critics as "Seattle lite." Nonetheless, STP has managed to make four noteworthy albums, No. 4 being the latest in their solid and cohesive body of work. No. 4 is not groundbreaking, but the quartet's aggressive, dynamic hard rock is emotion-packed and timeless. Not as hit-heavy as its predecessors, No. 4 is nevertheless strong and diverse.


Godsmack - Godsmack [EXPLICIT LYRICS]

{short description of image} {short description of image}With a dash of Tool and a smattering of Filter seeping through, Godsmack are on the money, especially on "Whatever," the tantalizing "Get Up, Get Out!," and the strident and syncopated "Bad Religion," on which Erna puts one in mind of James Hetfield. While Godsmack's approach may not be fresh, the foursome's strong songs and powerful energy are still intensely tasty. This is one of the best albums that I have heard in a long time


Steve Vai - The Ultra Zone

{short description of image} {short description of image}Steve does it again! This album left me totally amazed at one of the best guitarist musical abilites. Each song is completely different and you never know what to expect. This is by far some of his best guitar work yet. For those of you who keep saying he has limited talent and that this album is just like Passion and Warfare, you need to wake up!! Listen to it again, I can't believe you think it's the same? Steve, excellent album. I have never once been disappointed by a Vai recording. Vai is what happens when a man uses his gift to it's fullest potential and allows no limits, no boundaries. My personal favorite on this cd is "Frank"...very powerful...passionate; an excellent tribute to a remarkable man.


Chris Cornell - Euphoria Morning

{short description of image}{short description of image} On his solo debut, Chris Cornell teamed with two-thirds of Eleven (Nastasha Shneider and Alain Johannes, who both also co-produced the album) for a record that allowed him to hang up the rock-god mantle in favor of more sensitive and experimental pursuits. Self-admittedly striving for the diversity of the Beatles, Cornell has succeeded in making music that breathes the same kind of emotion with a healthy '90s updating. Songs such as "Follow My Way" and "Can't Change Me" find the former Soundgarden frontman tossing Indian flourishes into the mix while "When I'm Down" is delivered with the kind of elan that says even grunge-gods have soul. Elsewhere, Cornell dips a toe into the sounds of his youth by including the murky "Mission" and more ethereal "Pillow of Your Dreams," a pair of tracks guaranteed to hearten fans of his former group. The true highlights of EUPHORIA MORNING come when Cornell pushes himself, whether on the sonically rich "Disappearing One" or "Wave Goodbye," a sinewy funk number that doubles as a tribute to the late Jeff Buckley.


Sting - Brand New Day

{short description of image}{short description of image} There is a difference between being an inspired musician and an informed musician. Sting is the latter. As always, he surrounds himself with ultratalented artists: this time around Stevie Wonder, Branford Marsalis, James Taylor, guitarist Dominic Miller, and the prince of rai Cheb Mami, fill the roster. Brand New Day exhibits about as many musical styles are there are tracks, all encased in dense, meticulous production. The album begins promisingly. "A Thousand Years" pulses atop a lush, two-note foundation. "A Desert Rose" folds trilling Algerian pop into trip-hop. Melodic, late-night jazz ballads dominate the middle portion of the collection. But Sting's preoccupation with odd-numbered time signatures prevents the songs from grooving, while the choruses are yawns. "Fill Her Up" (no, not "Fill 'Er Up"), a country tune, represents Sting at his most self-indulgent. Listening to one of the wealthiest musicians in pop singing "Got no money to invest / Got no prospect / Or education / I was lucky to get the job at this gas station" requires a heroic suspension of disbelief. The song morphs into this rousing gospel number where Sting and a supporting chorus chant "You gotta fill 'er up with Jesus! / You gotta fill her up with life!"


Lenny Kravitz - 5

{short description of image} {short description of image}Lenny Kravitz , the crowned prince of soulful rock and rocking soul, continues to blur the lines separating the genres on his new album named 5. His latest outing and, yes, fifth full-length release Credited with mining the neo-soul sound that has helped boost the careers of artists such as Seal, Des*reé and Maxwell, Kravitz rides his own distinctive vibe on this 13-track collection that takes lessons from the masters of soul (Sly, EWF, Mayfield, etc.) and updates their old-school sentiments with new-school production and instrumentation. Topping off his smoldering musical endeavors with sassy and sexy ("The way you love me/ Is like a needle in the vein..."), 5 is a sultry release that reminds listeners of how R & B helped conceive and sustain rock `n' roll.


The Living End - The Living End

{short description of image}{short description of image} The band The Living End includes Chris Cheney on vocals and guitar, Scott Owen on upright bass and vocals and Trav Demsey on drums. Chris and Scott were friends at school in Melbourne, Australia, and they first formed the band in 1994. They started playing local shows, and soon started touring all of Australia. They gained more attention for some successful EPs and singles they released. Now they're achieving international success with their first full-length release--a self-titled album that features driving punk-pop with a touch of ska.


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