Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

In the opening track of their new album No Really, I?m Fine, The Spill Canvas?s Nick Thomas sings, ?I?m not concerned with pleasing all those little pricks and their little scenes?. Well, he may be pleasantly surprised, because No Really, I?m Fine is well crafted and destined to please most who listen. With most alternative bands that come out today, generally those classified as emo and punk, they play the same song over and over again. The Spill Canvas is smarter than that and far too talented to let themselves do that.

The first single, ?All Over You? begins with a riff like Kelly Clarkson?s ?Since U Been Gone?, but as the song picks up, the tempo does so as well. It?s a suitable first single with major potential to break into the Top 40. ?Saved?, a song originally recorded for the Superman Returns Soundtrack, was re-recorded with Andrew McMahon of Jack?s Mannequin and Something Corporate on keys. ?Saved? is a catchy power ballad, but it sounds pretty typical from today?s alternative bands.

?Connect The Dots? is a low tempo song about getting some lovin?. It is a song that sticks out because of its drum machine beat and slow and low feel. Closing out the album is ?Lullaby?. Nick Thomas plays an acoustic guitar backed by strings to sing an honest and heartfelt song about singing the one he loves to sleep. The harmonies are perfect and the orchestration adds a lot.

All in all, nothing new from The Spill Canvas, but that is far from a bad thing considering their previous work. Nick Thomas began The Spill Canvas by himself, and with a full band and a great catalog of songs behind them, the sky is the limit. However, the sad part is they also have the potential to be overlooked.

{Reviewed by: Matt Chesley}


Album Review: The Blackout – We Are The Dynamite

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The Blackout?s full-length debut We Are The Dynamite is a strong offering from yet another Welsh post-hardcore band. Lostprophets and Funeral for a Friend have made their impact on American soil and The Blackout is looking for similar acceptance. In fact, Ian Watkins of lostprophets did guest vocal duties on the second single, ?High Tide, Baby?. ?High Tide, Baby? is one of the softer songs on WATD, which makes it a great choice for a second single. The first single was the fast paced ?Beijing Cocktail?, which is a typical hard rock song these days. It sounds like A Day To Remember without the screaming.

What does set them apart is that they use two singers. This is not a new concept, but both singers only sing. With plenty of bands today (From Autumn To Ashes, Atreyu, etc) their drummer sings melodic parts while they have a screamer up front. The Blackout uses two singers to go back and forth.

We Are The Dynamite
is honestly nothing special, but it is a fun record. Each listen gets better, but if you are unsure, check out their myspace page. They are a talented band, but far from something new.

{Reviewed by: Matt Chesley}

Faber Drive
is Canada?s equivalent to Good Charlotte. They are a lot like Simple Plan, but Canada hasn?t sent them to take over the emo scene just yet. While Canada has produced a lot of crappy artists (Celine Dion, Bryan Adams? must I go on?), Faber Drive is not one of them. But while they consider themselves punks, they sure do use a lot of acoustic guitar. Two of their three singles are acoustic tunes, and that?s really misleading. Although, they know how to write hooks. Then again, teaming up with the producers of Hinder?s ?Extreme Behavior? doesn?t hurt. That album has catchy hooks up to the neck.

The first single from Seven Second Surgery was ?Second Chance?. It lacks punch for a debut single, but the chorus is catchy enough to draw you in for more. The second single is the acoustic based ?Tongue Tied?. Another catchy song with another strong chorus, ?Tongue Tied? reached #17 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart. What is shocking is that Seven Second Surgery and its singles have not touched the U.S. charts.

The latest single is a ballad with the standard acoustic guitars and orchestra. It?s a fine song, but it?s been heard before. The strongest songs are ?Sex and Love? and ?Summer Fades To Fall?. The former is the reason they got signed, and the latter is the reason they should get airplay in the states. They are upbeat, full steam ahead punk rockers packed with; you guessed it, great hooks.

Faber Drive should not be overlooked. They will most likely be the next big act out of Canada. With a debut as strong as Seven Second Surgery, it?s hard to believe they haven?t become the next big thing already. You will definitely find yourself singing along on the second listen.
{Reviewed by: Matt Chesley}


Album Review: The Color Fred – Bend To Break

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When Fred Mascherino left Taking Back Sunday to pursue a solo career, many fans were skeptical that it would sound too much like TBS. But in the history of Taking Back Sunday, with only one original member remaining, three well-known side projects have come out. Jesse Lacey formed Brand New, which began as a pop/punk band, but has recently moved to indie. John Nolan formed Straylight Run, which of course is famous for their song ?Existentialism On Prom Night? which had millions of emo kids singing ?loud and out of key? for most of 2005. Now, with The Color Fred, Taking Back Sunday has officially let their best asset go.

From the get go, it is obvious that Bend To Break is not attempting to be a cheap version of Mascherino?s former band. The first single from Bend To Break is ?If I Surrender?, which sounds at first like it could be any average punk bands biggest hit. But you can?t hate the guy for being a catchy songwriter. Just look at the last two TBS albums and the songwriting credits.

But the album really picks up with the third track, ?Hate To See You Go?. It is quite possibly the best song Bend To Break has to offer, with a great arrangement of acoustic and electric guitars along with strong songwriting. And what is any pop album without a ballad? ?It Isn?t Me? soars with piano and strings, only making this heart wrenching tune radio friendly and accessible. With lines like ?just tell me that you?re sure that I mean nothing to you?, it?s hard not to feel Fred?s pain and just want to give the hairy guy a hug.

The song ?I?ll Never Know? is an acoustic song that sounds strangely familiar. It is a lot like the Taking Back Sunday song ?New American Classic? in which Mascherino shares lead vocals over picking an acoustic guitar with a small symphony in the background. But this doesn?t mean it?s a bad song. Mascherino is just taking what he did great on Where You Want To Be and applying it to his own album now.

The only low point on the album is ?The Tragedy?. It?s got a fuzzy, vintage sound to it, much like Sum 41 and My Chemical Romance have done on their latest albums. However, lasting only a minute it?s tolerable, and unlike Sum 41, it?s not in French so it?s much more enjoyable.

All in all, Bend To Break is a great debut album from a guy who knows how to write a hit. If you are a fan of fun pop rock, pick this album up. It?s worth every penny.

{Reviewed by: Matt Chesley}


Album Review: Trapt – Live!

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Most of the time when a band decides to release a live album, the band has had substantial success. Bands and artists such as Peter Frampton, Linkin Park, Kiss, and AC/DC have had major success with numerous studio albums, thus prompting a successful live album.

With this said, Trapt has done something odd for their third album. They have released Live!, an 11 song record with 9 live tracks and 2 studio tracks. The two opening tracks, those of the studio-recorded variety are the only true standout performances on Live! Chris Brown is not a great singer by any means, and this becomes even more evident on the live recordings. Brown?s vocals tend to be weak and are almost completely drowned by the rest of the band at times. At soft points, he also tends to sound like a famous green character from Sesame Street.

Even when Trapt was a new band, they were a mediocre band in a mediocre genre that featured the likes of Creed, Nickelback and hundreds of unknowns (Submersed, Closure, Echo 7 and so on). However, Live! could actually help Trapt?s career, as doubtful as it may seem. The performances are very raw with great instrumentation and big crowd involvement? on the songs they know. But the between song banter will throw a lot of potential or semi-fans off. The overuse of profanity, most notably after ?Hollowman?, is not only unnecessary, but sounds forced as if to try to be cool.

There are several strong songs in the set however. Their song ?Waiting?, which is fairly new, eclipses their jock-rock hit ?Headstrong? in not only quality, but in presentation. The strength of the entire band seems to have disappeared; when everything should?ve been it?s biggest.

Needless to say, if you are not a die-hard Trapt fan, it?s ok to steer clear of this one and wait for their next studio album.

{Review by: Matthew Chesley}


Album Review: Drowing Pool – Full Circle

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Besides the death of original lead singer, Dave Williams in August of 2002, not much has been said about the Dallas, TX metal band Drowning Pool. But the boys have been hard at work in the last five years, mostly with finding a suitable lead singer. Jason Jones was brought in to fill the void on Desensitized, but radio play was minimal and no one seemed to notice.

Soon after Desensitized failed to make the impact Sinner had three years prior, Drowning Pool brought Ryan McCabe into the action for Full Circle. Some may recognize the name or voice of McCabe, because he is formerly of the Chicago based metal band Soil. And believe me kids, McCabe does not disappoint in his new gig.

The album may pass as a typical metal album. Crunching guitars, thick drums, and a voice that can go from a growl to a shriek at the drop of a hat make Drowning Pool sound like anyone else. But Drowning Pool is too stylized and slick to get dragged in with everyone else. Simply put, their songs have hooks. Songs like ?Full Circle?, ?Reborn? and the juiced up Billy Idol cover of ?Rebel Yell? could blow up on hard rock radio with ease. In fact, this album has the potential to bring Drowning Pool to the front of the metal pack once again.

The only low point is the dreary ?Reason I?m Alive?. After following the Alice in Chains styled ?Reborn?, it just can?t stand on it?s two feet and take off. ?Paralyzed? is a low tempo tune, yet it works due to it?s incredibly grunge era sound. Which makes it apparent that Drowning Pool is throwing all influences into this record. Obvious metal influences such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin are apparent throughout. But plenty of songs have Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots stamped on the forehead. And we can?t forget ?Rebel Yell? closing out the album. Variety will help Drowning Pool tremendously.

Full Circle has great potential of attracting new fans, as well as retaining original fans from the ?90?s. Expect to hear several songs on your hard rock radio in the coming year. And do yourself a favor, pick this album up and crank it.

{Review by: Matthew Chesley}


Album Review: Sixx:AM – Heroin Diaries Soundtrack

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Most fans probably remember Nikki Sixx from the days he spent with Motley Crue. The days he spent heavily abusing drugs and his strong addiction to heroin. Since then he has recovered from his addiction and now re-released himself back into the rock scene with an incredibly real and powerful album. Sixx has team up with DJ Ashba and James Michaels (The Exies, Saliva, Meatloaf, Sammy Hagar…) with his new band, Sixx: AM. Nikki Sixx recently recovered a diary that he kept during prime years when he was with Motley Crue, vividly detailing and documenting his life as a rockstar and his heroin addiction. The diaries, The Heroin Diaries, will be released this September. His new album, The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, is a strong, and powerful album that, brutally and emotionally, enters you into the world of a rockstar, drugs and all.

The album opens with a possible excerpt from his diaries, vividly putting you into a scene of drugs and the solitude it brings. A perfect precursor for what you’re about to hear. As the Christmas sounds drown the next track, Van Nuys, brings feet back to reality with a chorus, “Everybody gets high, everbody gets low…“, a chorus that you’ll surely be singing along too. The first single of album, Life Is Beautiful, is full of energy. James Michaels vocals are fulfilling, ranging from low to high notes. It amazes me to think that he hasn’t stepped up to the mic as a lead vocalist yet. Pray For Me, Tomorrow, and Accidents Can Happen are all solid songs which in turn is followed by an intermission, that made it hard for me not to think Trans Siberian Orchestra.

The second half of the album continues with Dead Man’s Ballet, which, begins with a narrated story of a near death experience, background choirs and changing tempos. The album mellows out and continues to share the honest stories of Sixx and his drug addictions. Girl With Golden Eyes, a track explicitly detailing what his body went through day by day as he gave up the drugs. “It’s like shock therapy to my guts”, Sixx remembers, but he keeps strong, continually repeating to himself “Everything will be ok, everything will be alright.” The album ends with monumental instrumentals and concluding narrations by Nikki Sixx, sharing his bitter realizations and his life after death.

The album is a solid release by Sixx:AM. I really felt like Sixx wrote his troubles and life changing moments with drugs through each song. This is everything a soundtrack would be, what you’d expect from a soundtrack, and it’s for a book. Sixx, DJ Ashba, and Michaels put together an album that is impactful, honest, explicit and just real. Not only do you feel the raw emotion in the lyrics, the music itself lives beyond it’s expectations. Make sure to pick up yourself a copy of Sixx:AM – Heroin Diaries, in stores every where August 28th. Or just click on this link to preorder it: Sixx:AM – The Heroin Diaries

{Review by: Anthony Montalbano}