Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Top 10 Hip-Hop/R&B Albums of 2012 by Dom

2012 is coming to a close and it's that joyful time of year: LIST SEASON. As the title states these are my top 10 favorite hip-hop and r&b albums of the year. This list is open to official albums, EP's and mixtapes alike.

NOTE: At the time of posting I have not listened to Game's Jesus Piece or T.I.'s Trouble Man: Heavy is the Hand, not that I think either would make this list but you never know.

10.) Big K.R.I.T. - 4eveNaDay: I was between this and his debut album that dropped this year and I think I enjoy this tape a little more, KRIT is putting the south back on the map for real. (check out "Boobie Miles")

9.) Chiddy Bang - Breakfast: I just love this album, it's fun, uptempo, with surprisingly conscious lyrics, just a great album. (check out "Baby Roulette")

8.) Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music: You could say i slept on this, I heard from the guys at DeadEndHipHop that it was a crazy album and they were right, this album is real, Mike's lyrics and flow mixed with El-P's production go together perfectly. (check out "Reagan")

7.) Joe & Box - We Just Fucked Your Beat Vol. 2: Who woulda thought a mixtape from 2 white boys could be this good? It just is, the burn every beat they spit over and the replay value is just insane. Look em up on and get all 3 of their tapes for free. (check out "House Party")

6.) MGK - Lace Up: Machine Gun Kelly's long awaited debut album isn't perfect but it's a damn good start, his wild and crazy songs are there but the album is surprisingly heartfelt and I love it. (check out "End of the Road")

5.) Lupe Fiasco - Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album: As a supporter of Lasers I was hoping this album would be a mix of Lupe's older stuff mixed with the Lasers sound and for the most part that's what we get. There are a couple insufferable hooks but overall it's a great album. (check out "Lamborghini Angels")

4.) Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE: I'm not a big r&b fan, I'm a fan of The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, John Legend, Anthony Hamilton and that's about it. But I have to admit, Frank Ocean delivered a damn near perfect album, his voice, his lyrics, the few features on it make it an amazing listen.

3.) Nas - Life is Good: If you know me, or have been following me, you know that Nas is one of my favorite rappers of all time, so you know I was looking forward to this album, and it did not disappoint. His hooks aren't usually that great but he stepped it up on this, and I don't need to mention his amazing lyrics. Nas continues one of the most impressive discographies is hip hop. (check out "Daughters")

Now these next two are both my number ones, only because I enjoy them differently, one I can casually listen to and love and the other I listen to all the way through and view it as a movie almost, so without further ado:

1 .) Macklemore x Ryan Lewis - The Heist: After becoming my favorite rapper of the year and releasing songs that I listen to on a daily basis I decided to buy this album and it is as perfect as an album gets. I listen to literally every song, there's even an instrumental track that I love ("BomBom"). Between the silly songs to the emotionally driven personal tracks Macklemore shines. For the first time ever I fell in love with a producer, and Ryan Lewis is that producer, it's so clean yet so dirty at the same time, this album is the reason that rappers work with only one producer for a project. (check out any song, seriously.)

1.) Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city: Coming off of Section .80 Kendrick had a lot to live up to, but if there's one guy that can live up to it and even surpass it it's Kendrick Lamar. This entire album is flawless, the seamless transitions into separate tracks and how the skits tie the story together is amazing. Kendrick is a narrator in the story but he's also the protagonist and at times he's even the antagonist. If you like hip hop you have to love this album, it's that good. (just like The Heist, check out any song, seriously.)

Well, there it is, the top 10 hip-hop/r&b albums of 2012. It was a pretty great year, there was a ton of crap released(see 2Chainz, Meek Mill, Tyga) but if you look just a little harder you can find greatness. Here's to 2013!

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Punk Goes Pop 5" Review by Dom

Hey guys, trying out a different format for the reviews, lemme know what you think!

Summary: They should start calling this "Standard Metalcore and Pop Bands Go Popular Songs".

The Punk Goes series has become a staple in Fearless Records' catalog spanning 12 years and 13 installments. There have been various styles that the punk goes, including metal, pop, acoustic, crunk, etc. Some of the compilations flat out suck, some are great(Punk Goes Pop 2). This volume is the first where we say some bands do some older songs, going back to the 80s on some tracks. Unfortunately those tracks suck. The Maine covered "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" which in every world would be one of the most fun-sounding covers ever, but no, The Maine thought they'd slow it down and make it sound serious and actually ruin the song. Breathe Carolina covered "Billie Jean", I'm not a big Michael Jackson fan but he's one of those artists you just don't cover, unless you're Alien Ant Farm(see their "Smooth Criminal" cover). Might as well continue to talk about the god awful tracks on here while we're at it. I have a question for The Word Alive, and I like the band and excuse my French but, what the fuck were you thinking? You covered "Mercy" a trap rap song with 4 rappers on it and absolutely no singing, you did "Heartless" on Volume 3 and that worked but this one is just terrible.

There are a few middle of the road covers, Secrets covered "Payphone" and that wasn't bad, not too great either. Forever the Sickest Kids covered "We Found Love" for what reason I will never know, the band is pretty damn poppy as it is already. That's my issue with Breathe Carolina, they're on Top 40 radio stations, that's Pop Goes Pop not "punk"

Is the compilation all bad? Don't be silly of course not. Out of the 13 tracks, I enjoy 6. Those come from Memphis May Fire("Grenade"), Upon This Dawning("Call Me Maybe"), Issues("Boyfriend"), Mayday Parade("Somebody That I Used to Know"), Like Moths to Flames("Some Nights") and We Came As Romans("Glad You Came"). Issues cover of Justin Biebers "Boyfriend" is easily the best song on this album, by far. It has something that no other track on here has: it's fun. That's why the Punk Goes series has always been good, the bands always sounded like they were having the greatest time of their lives recording the covers and Volume 5 seems like it's the serious cd.

While you can argue that I like half of the album the other half is just so bad, it's hard to explain. Think of the songs mentioned, such as "Mercy" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and now think of them being performed purposefully bad and here you have the covers given to us. The Punk Goes series has been in a downfall since Pop Volume 2, Volume 3 had some good ones but not as many as I'd hope for and Volume 4 had even less. It's not bad but it's not getting my money for a physical copy.

Overall: 4/10

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Few Hip-Hop Reviews by Dom

So it's been quite a while since I've reviewed an album and a slew of hip-hop albums have come out and it's time to do this.

Kendrick Lamar's major label debut dropped finally after being one of the most anticipated albums of 2012 and it lived up to and exceeded expectations. This is a modern classic, I truly have no words to explain how great this album is. There are two very minor gripes though, one the album is almost impossible to listen to without listening to the whole album, which isn't always bad. 2, there are little skits at the end of almost every track which tie the story together but some last a minute after the music has stopped which can get kind of annoying if you're just trying to listen to a track or two. Between "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe", "Backseat Freestyle", the 12-minute "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst", and pretty much every other song GKMC is fantastic. The beats, production, vocals, the features, the story, this album really is a modern day Illmatic.

Meek Mill's debut album was also highly anticipated and for good reason, his mixtapes have gotten a lot of buzz and acclaim. I've never really loved him, he's got some good tracks between his tapes, his flow is rather basic and his lyrics aren't too great. This album is to me, a downgrade from the Dreamchasers series, those I could handle and usually enjoy, this album I have a very rough time getting through. Shockingly it's the tracks that are only rapped by Meek except the track "Maybach Curtains" which has Rick Ross and Nas rapping with John Legend singing the hook. That track is the biggest and best this album has to offer. "Traumatized", "Tony Story Pt. 2" and "Polo & Shell Tops" are really the only other tracks i can enjoy, not an impressive debut at all.

Machine Gun Kelly's debut was also anticipated, except unlike Meek Mill's this one is good. MGK is billed as being a very technical yet commercial sounding rapper and if you've been following his mixtapes you see that that's true. On his debut, it's not so much true, on Lace Up MGK shines on the slower, more personal tracks, he has emotion in his voice that just translates his pain. There are some cheesy hooks and lackluster songs and the high energy songs are good but it seems like he's trying to get away from that, between "Wild Boy", "Lace Up" "D3mons" and "Warning Shot" there really aren't any. The features on this album really shine, especially the surprising ones from M. Shadows and Synyster Gates from Avenged Sevenfold on the opening track. Tech N9ne and Twista show up on a track together which is an obvious stand out. It's not perfect, but it's a pretty good debut album, definitely worth the wait, I think to really make the experience fantastic you should download the Lace Up mixtape, it's higher energy and also has some fantastic heartfelt songs on it. Looking very forward to MGK's next project, whatever it is.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Our Top 10 Favorite Covers of All Time by Dom and Jon

In light of the 5th installment of the Punk Goes Pop series from the Fearless Records label, Jon and I thought we'd give you all a run down of our top 10 favorite covers of all time. Spanning all genres there were no holds barred on the selections, signed and unsigned are here, popular and unpopular are here.

Dom's List:

10.) Message in a Bottle by Machine Head (Originally by The Police)

9) Such Great Heights by Confide (Originally by The Postal Service)

8.) Got the Time by Anthrax (Originally by Joe Jackson)

7.) You Really Got Me by Van Halen (Originally by The Kinks)

6.) 6 Foot 7 Foot by The Paramedic (Originally by Lil Wayne)

5.) Painkiller by Death (Originally by Judas Priest)

4.) Die, Die My Darling by Metallica (Originally by The Misfits)

3.) Simple Man by Deftones (Originally by Lynyrd Skynyrd)

2.) Emerald by Mastodon (Originally by Thin Lizzy)

1.) Hurt by Johnny Cash (Originally by Nine Inch Nails)

Jon's List:

10.) Replay by Batten Down Your Heart (Originally by Iyaz featuring Sean Kingston)

9.) Grenade by Forever Sets the Sun (Originally by Bruno Mars)

8.) I Just Had Sex by Stand for the Fallen (Originally by The Lonely Island featuring Akon)

7.) In My Head by Capture the Crown (Originally by Jason Derulo)

6.) Such Great Heights by Confide (Originally by The Postal Service)

5.) She's So High by Four Year Strong (Originally by Tal Bachman)

4.) Rolling in the Deep by Amyst (Originally by Adele)

3.) Any Way You Want it by Rise Against (Originally by Journey)

2.) Beautiful Girls by Bayside (Originally by Sean Kingston)

1.) Still Fly by The Devil Wears Prada (Originally by Big Tymers)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Issues vs. Woe, is Me

This post is going to be more of a discussion more than anything, I will still give my thoughts on each single, but yeah.

Background: I can't talk about this and just leave all of you in the dark if you have no idea what I'm talking about. Woe, is Me is a metalcore band who's reissue of their debut album I reviewed briefly. Since their first album all but 2 original members left. First it was Tyler Carter, the clean vocalist, then the screamer, bassist and keyboardist all left. Woe, is Me trucked on and found replacements for all, notably Hance Alligood taking over clean vocals and Doraino Magliano from That's Outrageous. The four members that left ended up forming their own band, Issues. The bad blood has been obvious and it was only a matter of time until the new Woe, is Me and Issues dropped their first singles, and here we are.

Briefing: Let's talk Woe, is Me first. First off, after Carter left the band recorded "Vengeance" which tore Carter apart. Then the other 3 members left. So this bad blood had started back in 2011 and we already have a track taking shots at people. This feud reminds me of rap feuds where the bad blood between members causes them to release songs about each other which I think could be good for metal to.

Woe, is Me: Woe, is Me released "I've Told You Once" and the song takes a djent influence to it and reminds one of Attack Attack!'s latest album. Hance sounds good though it does sound like he may be autotuning a little bit. The lyrics don't take specific shots like I thought they would, in "Vengeance" they references Carter's lyrics and all that so I expected more lyrically. Instrumentally I liked it, it sounded nice and heavy. Doriano sounds a lot better on this track than he did on any That's Outrageous track which makes you scratch your head. My gripe with old Woe, is Me is that it sounded too sporadic and this track sounds more focused which helps but overall the song just isn't that great.

Issues: Issues released "King of Amarillo" and what I was most surprised at was how similar they sounded, this song also has some djent. Lyrically they take rap influenced shots at Woe, is Me: "If you don't like these lyrics then go listen to Genesis Sega. We ain't playin' games, you took demise we'll take the fame", which takes shots at the title of Woe, is Me's album title and at the track "Fame > Demise". So Issues wins in the lyric department. The instrumentation is very similar but on this track it packs more of a punch. Vocals all around are phenomenal, Tyler sounds as spectacular as he always does.

So Who Won This Round?

Lyrics: Issues
Instrumentation: Slight edge to Issues
Vocals: Issues

Overall: I hope these 2 tracks are really the only that have to do with the other bands. Diss tracks are cool but you can't make it an entire album/EP, some of the greatest diss tracks were the only ones on the album. 2Pac's "Hit 'Em Up" was never even on an album, Nas' "Ether" was surrounded by 17 other topic tracks and Eminem's "The Warning" was only on a mixtape. What I'm getting at is that I hope they're both just using these tracks to pump each band's fans up for their own albums. Also, to the people saying that this is childish, it's not, it makes for good songs and interesting lyrics, and it was also the label, Rise Records in this case, decision to release the singles on the same day even though the bands could push which songs became lead singles. Based solely on this 2 tracks I'm more excited for the Issues debut over the Woe, is Me sophomore album.

And yes, I will review both albums when they drop.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Quick Reviews III by Dom

Since I've been gone a while I thought I'd do a few more quick reviews of some recent albums.

Yellowcard is one of the biggest and best pop-punk bands of all time. Their classics "Ocean Avenue" and "Fighting" are firmly set in stone and songs for a generation. This is their latest album and it stacks up against the classics, this album is superb. It's a fantastic end of summer record, the first time I had listened to it I was relaxing on a beach and now every time I hear a track from it I'm automatically brought back to the beach. This album deserves not only your listen but also your money to be able to listen to it, go buy it. 9/10

A generic record, especially for the metalcore genre. With an unnecessary vocal feature of Danny Worsnop from Asking Alexandria and a superb feature of Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens they tell the tale of the album as a whole. A few unnecessary songs, a few superb ones and a couple that hit middle ground. It's a generic record, but it's better than most. 7/10

Another over saturated genre is the metalcore infused with techno. I See Stars also do nothing new, nothing original but just as Memphis May Fire they seem to do it better. Overall the album is decent with a couple tracks that I listen to regularly. Some songs are flat out awful but the good ones make up for it. 6/10

A fantastic collection of the hits of a fantastic band. What makes this special is that it comes with a second disc with a 4 song EP of all new songs. Coming off of 2010's The Fire this EP sets a perfect tone for the upcoming album. 9/10

Childish Gambino released one of my favorite rap albums last year. This year he drops a mixtape called Royalty, and it seems the success has gone to his a bit. The mixtape has a polished sound and he no longer spits "real rap", on this tape he raps about what every other rapper raps about and that makes him no longer unique. What's worse is that he doesn't even do it better than most, on this he's average. I am ecstatic that I didn't pay for this. 3/10

Emmure is a band who is generic in a genre full of generics: deathcore. Truly every band sounds similar with only a few standouts, Emmure, up until this release was one of those bands. With their obscene and hysterical lyrics and Frankie Palmeri's odd vocals, Emmure stood out. On this release they've toned it down, it some songs it works, in some songs it really doesn't. The album truly has no moments that remind you of Felony and only a few that remind you of Speaker of the Dead. 4.5/10

Above This is a deathcore band and this is their first official album. That sentence will probably turn a lot of people off. But I believe if you're a fan of deathcore then you should check this album out. They're like a baby whose parents are Emmure(Felony-era) and Attila. With fantastically funny lyrics and vocals that tear your ears up(in a good way) and even some surprising clean vocals this album is pretty solid. 7/10

Friday, September 21, 2012

"For All Those Sleeping - Outspoken" Review by Dom

For All Those Sleeping is a 5-piece metalcore band from Minnesota. Outspoken is their second full-length album following their debut album, Cross Your Fingers. Cross Your Fingers had a much lighter sound than most metalcore albums focusing more on the pop-punk choruses and clean vocals were extremely prominent. This album switches gears becoming a heavy, less clean vocal-driven album. Does FATS avoid the sophomore slump that plagues thousands of bands?

1. Outspoken - This is a 48 second long intro track that starts the album fantastically heavy.

2. Once a Liar (Always a Fake) - This track keeps the heavy train rolling, with a catchy chorus and some heavy verses this song shines.

3. Mark My Words - The first track released off of this album definitely showed that the band was going in a much heavier direction than their previous album. This song is just great, not much more to say.

4. Tell Me the Truth - This track lightens it up a bit, it's here that we start to realize the theme of the album: liars/betrayal.

5. Follow My Voice - Conceptually this is my favorite song on the album, it's about how the singer doesn't want to be the voice of a generation, just the voice to help you get out of the dark times in your life. This song is truly beautiful.

6. Turn of the Century - A heavier song with no clean vocals at all and it sounds refreshingly good.

7. Life on Fire - A song about setting someone's life on fire. Obviously this a very angry album.

8. Love isn't Real - One of my favorite songs on the album, it goes back to the style of the first album, clean chorus, clean vocals, heavy breakdown, this song is amazing.

9. Never Trust a Dead Man - Another heavy one, I liked it a lot at first but it hasn't been in my rotation lately, a little forgettable.

10. Shaken Not Stirred - A heavy track, almost blends in with the last track, doesn't do much for me.

11. One Kiss - Finally a lighter song, oddly enough I was almost craving clean vocals again, I didn't like this song at first but it's grown on me a lot since I first listened to the album.

12. Backstabber - Gotta end the album heavily of course. It brings back the great clean chorus with the heavy verses, and it ends the album on a high note.

13. I Am Forever - This is an iTunes only bonus track, I thought I'd throw it in the review. The guitar work is exceptional on this track and gives it it's own personality. I don't know why this is an iTunes only track, it should be on the physical copies because it's a good track and I feel like it ends the album better.

Overall: I almost have mixed feelings about this album, some of the songs blend together, which is typical of albums from this genre, plus the album is pretty generic and unoriginal. Even while being unoriginal the band does it better than a lot of the other bands in the genre. FATS is definitely a standout band in the genre, they have their faults but overall, they're solid. Oddly enough I felt it may have been too heavy, I love heavy music but I was craving clean vocals throughout and after listening to the album all the way through I find myself either listening to hip hop or R&B to balance it out.

Rating: 8/10

"G.O.O.D. Music - Cruel Summer" Review by Dom

Kanye West, he is one of the most recognizable faces in the word right now but what some seem to forget is that he is quite possibly the most important figure in modern hip hop. It seems like every album he drops becomes an instant classic and sets the standard for hip hop albums released that year. While this is a G.O.O.D. music compilation it feels like a Kanye album. Why? He's on 7 of the 12 tracks and while that doesn't seem like a lot, each track he's on is centered around him and he owns the track. Is this an instant classic or does it fall short?

1. To the World (performed by Kanye West and R. Kelly) - This track sets the album up pretty good, because this song isn't that great. It's a very generic hip hop/R&B track and R. Kelly doesn't sound that great and the chorus is more annoying than catchy.

2. Clique (performed by Kanye West, Jay-Z and Big Sean) - Is it really fair to put Big Sean on a track with Ye and Jay? That was rhetorical but the answer is no. This song actually sounds like it could've been on Watch the Throne, it's pretty good.

3. Mercy (performed by Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz)- This track dropped a while ago, and for me, it lost what it had. I enjoy Big Sean's verse cause it's funny but overall it's a lackluster track that falls short of being memorable.

4. New God Flow (performed by (Kanye West, Pusha T and Ghostface Killah) - I surprisingly like this song a lot, which is weird because I'm not huge fan of Pusha T but the chorus is good, every MC performs a good verse and the feature of Ghostface was refreshing.

5. The Morning (performed by Raekwon, Pusha T, Common, 2 Chainz, Cyhi the Prynce, Kid Cudi and D'banj) - This was the first song on this album to really blow me away, Raekwon tore it up, Common owned, Pusha, 2 Chainz, Cyhi and D'banj all did their thing spectacularly well. This track has a lot of artists on yet it seems very well put together and focused.

6. Cold (performed by Kanye West and DJ Khaled) - Why does Khaled get a featured credit for this? This track has been out the longest of any on this album and you can see why, it's Kanye doing his thing and going hard and it sounds so good.

7. Higher (performed by The-Dream, Pusha T, Mase and Cocaine 80s)- I don't have much to say about this track, it's generic, it sounds good sonically but it doesn't do much for me, it's just kind of there.

8. Sin City (performed by John Legend, Travis Scott, Teyana Taylor, Cyhi the Prynce and Malik Yusef)- I was so excited to hear John Legend on some more hip hop style tracks. Teyana Taylor blew me away on this track, her voice is amazing, this track is a definite stand out.

9. The One (performed by Kanye West, Big Sean, 2 Chainz and Marsha Ambrosius) - This track, like "Higher" doesn't do much for me, Ye sounds great as always but the rest of the track just falls flat, it's not terrible, but it's not too good.

10. Creepers (performed by Kid Cudi) - Cudi is so under utilized in this project, his voice works so well as a hook and he's a good MC, so I'm glad he has a stand alone track on this. What can I say? If you like Cudi you'll like this, if not, this probably won't convert you. Although he does do a bit more singing than we're used to, but I love it.

11. Bliss (performed by John Legend and Teyana Taylor) - The two strongest singing voices on this album get together to collaborate on a smooth and sweet R&B love song. It's so good, the song is stunningly beautiful.

12. Don't Like (performed by Kanye West, Chief Keef, Pusha T, Big Sean and Jadakiss) - This track closes out the album in great fashion, Ye's verse is fantastic and everyone does their thing so well on this track, they all brought their A game for this one.

Overall: The hip hop world is used to anything that Ye touches being fantastic, and I do agree with that. Though I think it's time for him to go back to solo albums, Watch the Throne was disappointing, including Jay-Z on that one. Cruel Summer is going under the "Should've Been Better" category for me. I realize Ye was going for a more commercial album but only using Common once is a sin and not using Mos Def at all is equally as offensive. All I would've liked was for maybe 2-3 bonus tracks with some less commercial sounding songs but we didn't but I can't fault the album for that. I don't think I'll be returning to this album too much. Teyana Taylor, John Legend, Common and Kanye all have albums in progress right now so I'm sure that G.O.O.D. Music will redeem themselves from this disappointment.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Busta Rhymes - Year of the Dragon" Review by Dom

Busta Rhymes. If you're into hip-hop at all you know this name. Known for his technical flow, speed and tongue-twisting verses. He's been around over 20 years first as a member of the Leaders of the New School, and in 1996 he released his debut solo album, The Coming. Since then he has released 7 albums, ranging from being held as classics to being disappointments and lackluster. In 2011 Busta was featured on a Chris Brown track, "Look at Me Now", this track put him back into the spotlight and he was instantly a hot rapper once again. Off of the tracks success Busta featured on tracks with artists ranging from Tech N9ne, Ashanti and Lil Wayne. In early 2012 it was announced that Busta had signed with Cash Money Records with the likes of Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj and Tyga. Year of the Dragon was supposed to be his debut LP for the YMCMB crew, instead he released it for free causing some confusion over whether this project is a mixtape or an album, I'm treating it as an album.

1. I'm Talking to You - To me, this is an odd opening track, the little intro sets up for the song to be crazy and insane, then Busta comes on and spits rather boringly. I expected more from him on this track.

2. Til We Die (featuring Rick Ross and Trey Songz) - Busta's better on this one, unfortunately for him, Ross' can't hold his weight(no pun intended) against Busta and Songz' chorus leaves little to be desired, give me Busta's minute long verse and leave the rest out.

3. Do That Thing - Busta talks of "bringing the crown home" on this track but he's not doing anything special on the track, the chorus sucks, and his verses are alright, nothing too fast, nothing too technical, I could hear these verses from other guys besides Busta.

4. Make it Look Easy (featuring Gucci Mane) - The beginning of this song is going to induce headaches, the chorus is god awful, even though Busta's verses are actually on par for him the chorus makes this song hard to listen to, also Gucci Mane sucks, please stop rapping.

5. Pressure (featuring Lil Wayne) - Never did I think I'd look forward to a track with Wayne on it, I felt that maybe the YMCMB front-leader could make Busta bring his A-game on the track, I was right. This track was surprisingly good, Wayne wasn't too bad on his verse either, I'll take his verse on this over anything off of Tha Carter IV.

6. Love-Hate (featuring Robin Thicke) - What the hell was going through his mind when he recorded this? I get it's supposed to be his "soft, love" song but he can't pull it off. Not only is it not his lane, he can't do it right and Thicke sounds great on it but the chorus is just flat boring, leaving a boring track.

7. Grind Real Slow - I expected this track to be a slow one as well, it's starts with a slower beat but leads into a dance/club beat. Even though he's rapping over a slower beat he sounds good doing it, oddly enough the gripe I have with this track has to do with what preceded it. The track before was overall a love song, this song is all sex driven, it's an odd transition.

8. King Tut (featuring Reek da Villain and J-Doe) - This is the lead single off of the album, I can see why, it's hard, Busta sounds good, as do the features on the track, it's a good song but it doesn't represent the album too well, which is what a single's purpose should be.

9. Sound Boy (featuring Cam'Ron) - Busta uses autotune(pretty badly) in the chorus of this song, his verses fall flat on themselves and Cam'Ron doesn't add much to the track.

10. Doin' it Again (featuring Reek da Villain and Chanel) - This track is good, not much to say, Chanel sings a good chorus, Busta has a good verse, oddly enough Reek grabs my attention more than Busta does, maybe because it's a deep beat and Busta has a deep voice so when Reek's higher pitched voice comes through it sounds different.

11. Wine & Go Down (featuring Vybz Kartel) - This track has a hard beat that sounds pretty good especially with Busta going over it. Kartel sounds good, if you can say that first name I'll be impressed.

12. Movie (featuring J-Doe) - My god. If you thought YMCMB would have a bad effect on Busta's sound go listen to this chorus, cause this will validate your thoughts. It's just awful, this chorus sounds as whiny as Drake does, maybe that's YMCMBs thing, whiny ass dudes.

13. Crazy - Can this track please be actually crazy? While Busta doesn't go off like you'd expect him to, he does actually sound crazy in this going with a deep almost demonic sounding voice and his delivery on this track is spectacular, this is probably the best track on this album.

14. Bleed the Same Blood (featuring Maino and Anthony Hamilton) - Hamilton is one of my favorite R&B singers right now so I hope Busta utilizes him well. Well, he does, Maino's verse is first and it's not bad, like Reek it's nice to hear a higher pitched voice over such dark beats. Busta sounds like Busta on this one, that's not a bad thing. Hamilton is the strongest part of the song, his vocals during the chorus are phenomenal.

Overall: I guess my initial thought is, I expected more. I expected the production to be better especially coming from YMCMB, the production's not bad it's just not as good as it should be. I wish he had utilized Nicki Minaj on this album, I'm not a fan of her solo stuff but her features are usually pretty good, it would've been interesting to hear Busta go in and then hear Nicki go crazy too. I'll keep about half of the tracks from this album, if I had paid for this album I'd probably be more disappointed but being free it's worth checking out. Busta shows he can do slower tempo songs on this project, that being said it makes you miss the tracks he went insane on. In no way is the album a return to form, if anything it's a subtle transition into a more well-rounded rapper, in the long run this direction could work for Busta, but for now we have this album, his debut for YMCMB, and it's just okay.

Rating: 5/10

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quick Reviews II: The Metal Edition by Dom

So I know I've been gone a bit so I thought I'd do some quick reviews to just get some stuff out there. These are going to be all metal albums from 2012 that I have not reviewed yet. Here are 6 of the biggest metal releases of 2012.

Starting with Testament's 10th album to date, there's not much to say besides that this album is truly great. A step up from The Formation of Damnation this album is thrashy, with flashes of mid-tempo and even a slow song. This is one of the best thrash records I've heard in a while. 9/10

Now, I've never been the biggest JFAC fan but a lot of people were loving this so I gave it a shot. At first I liked it a lot, in the months it's lost what it had, I don't know how but I don't enjoy really at all anymore, it doesn't do a lot for me anymore. 4/10

Shadows Fall's newest album, I'm a big fan of the band, seem them live, met them, overall I love the band. This album is a step up from 2009's Retribution which I enjoyed, this album is more of a straightforward, balls-out, metal album. 8.5/10

Kreator. If you're a death/thrash metal fan, you know this name, if you don't, you're not a real fan. I had never given them a huge chance, I've listened to the classic Pleasure to Kill and liked it but never any other albums. This dropped and I thought I'd give it a shot. I like this album a lot, it's not perfect, it's got some cheesiness and some corny/cliche lyrics but overall it's a pretty solid release. 7/10

Again, if you are a thrash fan, you know Overkill. You know what you're gonna get with an Overkill album, while not as predictable as Megadeth or Slayer, with Overkill you know you're gonna get a balls to the wall thrash album. I love the previous album Ironbound and this one might be even better, this album is a thrashterpiece, go pick this up. 9/10

Baroness' Yellow & Green, another band I've never really listened to until this album came out. I like this album a lot, they've got a sludgy element that reminds you of Mastodon, whom they are compared to all too often. But this album is a good album, I haven't enjoyed a sludge metal album as much since High on Fire's Snakes for the Divine. 8/10

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE" Review by Dom

Frank Ocean is a California R&B singer who is a member of the OFWGKTA collective group. Frank Ocean always stood out from the other members because he was a singer not a rapper, and his lyrics also strayed away from the horrorcore flag the group had been put under. Ocean released his debut mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra in 2011, the mixtape was met with critical acclaim. Sine then Ocean has become one of the biggest stars in R&B, working with Jay-Z and Kanye West on their album Watch the Throne to working with Pharrell, rap heavyweight Nas and working with the members of Odd Future as well. Here in 2012, Ocean has released his debut album channel ORANGE a week after publicly stating that he was once in love with a man.

1. Start - A 45 second intro track that sets up the second track.

2. Thinkin' Bout You - The first track released from the album and it is nothing short of spectacular. Frank shows his voice off right off the bat and it sounds so good.

3. Fertilizer - A 40 second interlude.

4. Sierra Leone - A nice slower song recounting Frank's lust for a girl during his teenage years.

5. Sweet Life - I'm not sure why but I am not a big fan of this song, it doesn't hold my attention, Frank sounds great but it's a song I can't get into.

6. Not Just Money - Another minute long interlude talking of how money doesn't mean happiness.

7. Super Rich Kids (featuring Earl Sweatshirt) - A 5 minute song featuring Earl Sweatshirt slowly rapping over the same beat. This song is a huge standout, using humor to make fun of rich kids, it's fantastic.

8. Pilot Jones - This track is another one that doesn't hold my attention, as always Frank sounds amazing.

9. Crack Rock - A great song about crack addiction, broken homes and crime. You can hear the emotion is Frank's voice on this track.

10. Pyramids - This song is a 10 minute epic story that is not only a pleasurable listen but is musically complex while still sounding simple enough to the listener's ear. I never thought I'd like a 10 minute long R&B song but Frank Ocean proved me wrong.

11. Lost - This is one of my favorite tracks on this album, the chorus is infectious with Ocean showing his low-scale vocals along with his higher vocals and it sounds phenomenal.

12. White (featuring John Mayer) - An interlude featuring a sweet solo played by John Mayer, it's a nice break from the last 25 minutes of R&B.

13. Monks - This track is an R&B/funk music fusion and it works with Frank's vocals, it's not a standout but it's a good song.

14. Bad Religion - A song about struggles with religion and love, and Frank sings it with such conviction that you feel for him.

15. Pink Matter (featuring Andre 3000) - I was skeptical about this song because honestly I thought Andre would outshine Frank like Andre always does when he has a guest verse. Frank holds his own against him and doesn't let him steal the show and the song benefits from it and is fantastic.

16. Forrest Gump - Another one of my favorite from this album, it hooked me in in the first 15 seconds. One is forced to wonder if this song is sung from the perspective of Jennie from the movie or if it has to do with Frank's love of another man. Regardless, the song is fantastic.

17. End/Golden Girl (featuring Tyler, the Creator) - You only get "Golden Girl" if you buy the physical cd and it's completely worth it especially hearing a surprising verse from Tyler, the Creator. It's a fantastic way to end the album.

Overall - Coming off of a critically acclaimed mixtape and high profile features this album had a lot to live up to. Frank pulled it off in spectacular style. channel ORANGE is one of my favorite albums of 2012, I return to it almost every day/night to listen to.

Rating - 9/10

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Quick Note

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quick Reviews by Dom

A lot of albums have come in the past few months and I wish I could review them all, but I can't due to time constraints. So here are 5 quick reviews where I'll give you a sentence or two and a rating, here we go.

1. Whitechapel - Whitechapel: One of the best deathcore acts around, this is their 5th album and they just keep getting better and better, a great album. 8/10

2. Woe, is Me - Number[s] (Deluxe Reissue): If you own the original then don't buy this, they did not re-record it with the new members of the band making this reissue pointless. It brags of 6 new songs but 2 have been released over a year ago and around a year ago respectively. There are 2 awful dubstep remixes, an outdated cover song and an acoustic rendition of one of their songs, it's an unnecessary release. 4/10

3. The Word Alive - Life Cycles: I haven't enjoyed TWA as much since they released their debut EP, this album feels more complete and more thought out. They escaped the sophomore slump while there are some issues with the album it certainly isn't a bad album. 7/10

4. Sleeping With Sirens - If You Were a Movie, This Would Be Your Soundtrack: A 5 song acoustic EP with 3 originals and 2 renditions of older songs, the new renditions aren't bad but the originals are significantly better but the 3 originals are fantastic songs and it gives me hope for the next album. 7.5/10

5. Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music: I can't explain how much I love this album, from the politically charged songs to talking about rap as a religion this album is phenomenal and is what real rap truly is. This album is in the running for best hip-hop album of 2012. 9/10

"Joe & Box - We Just Fucked Your Beat Vol. 2" - Review by Dom

Joe & Box are a rap duo from New Jersey made up of rappers Joe Urso and Andrew Boxman who also go by Weasel and Boogeyman respectively. This the duo's second official mixtape following volume one of the We Just Fucked Your Beat series. In the series they rap over non-original beats, some instantly noticeable, some not. At a quick 10 tracks one assumes that this tape is a showcase of the young group's chops and potential. How do they measure up?

1. House Party - A beat by Meek Mill and an infectious song. Right off the first line you can tell that Joe & Box know how to make you laugh. The song is definitely a showing of how both of these guys rap, their flows are impeccable.

2. Can You Work With That - The comedy and rapping continues to ensue, the track is a funny great chill song. This is the first track where they talk of how they're white rappers as well which comes up later on.

3. Shady 2.0 Cypher - Attempting to go over a beat that originally had Eminem, Slaughterhouse and Yelawolf on it is a bold move. Joe and Box trade off verses in a cypher-like fashion where topics range from rap and how essential it is to their lives and how radio rap is garbage.

4. Mercy - This Kanye song gets a nice make over, I'm not a fan of the original but this version is far superior. The duo takes shots at rappers and keep the comedy going. This song is a huge standout.

5. Exodus 23:1 - This beat comes from Pusha T and is a slower track. Here we finally hear some real emotion and substance in the duos lyrics. Joe talks of wanting to make it big and hating himself if he ends up at a 9 to 5 job. Box talks of how weed has taken over his life and his struggles with his addiction. This is my favorite song off of this tape.

6. Dirty Dancing - Joe starts off the track with an Eminem reference, the wordplay on this track is nothing short of fantastic.

7. Thoughts from a Balcony - The duo fucks Mac Millers beat. This track also shows some emotion and it is a great song.

8. Good Evening - The beat on this track is interesting but somehow it doesn't really keep my interest. Joe and Box do their thing on it but I don't return to this track often.

9. Daylight - They tear this beat apart, with a fast flow filled with emotion, not many rappers can do that. It makes for a memorable track.

10. Burn - Another Meek Mill track where the duo takes shots at trap rappers. The comedy comes back. This song is one of my favorites off of this mixtape and it ends it on a fantastic note.

Overall - It's obvious that the group is young and into having a good time. They have a lot of potential, coming from someone that loves substance in the lyrics Joe and Box are lacking in that department with the exception of a few songs. In their defense this tape wasn't made to be deep and insightful it was meant to be an introduction to the duo and to be a fun summer record and that's what it is.

Rating - 8.5/10

Download the mixtape for free:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Top 10 Favorite Rappers by Dom

As many of you know I am a pretty big hip-hop fan, as many of you know I hate most rappers. Guys like Drake, Wayne and Tyga do absolutely nothing for me. That being said I thought I'd make a quick list of my 10 favorite rappers, some will change over time and some won't, maybe I'll update it one day. But here we go.

1. Eminem - He's the rapper that got me into hip-hop and I've loved everything he's put out. (check out: The Marshall Mathers LP)

2. Nas - I mean, what is there to say? It's Nas, he tells a story better than anyone else and his messages are great, he's a great rapper. (check out Illmatic)

3. Jay-Z - Again, it's Jay-Z, what is there to say? He's stayed relevant since 1996 all while staying real and not selling out, that's talent. (check out Reasonable Doubt)

4. 2Pac - 2Pac is still to this day one of the greatest ever, who knows where he would've went had he not died? He's prolific, a story teller and a genius. (check out Me Against the World)

5. T.I. - He's got that southern drawl in his voice when he raps that just elevates his flow to the next level. In my mind his albums get better and better each one he drops. (check out No Mercy)

6. The Notorious B.I.G. - Biggie Smalls, no intro needed, if you don't know who he is you're not a hip-hop fan. That's a fact. (check out Ready to Die)

7. Lupe Fiasco - This guy has a fantastic flow, never fails to put out thought provoking songs that point out issues within America, around the world and in music itself. (check out Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor)

8. Common - Another one of the best storytellers in rap, he's got a great flow, great voice and a great message. (check out Be)

9. Kendrick Lamar- This guy released one of my favorite albums of the last 5 years, his storytelling ability is unmatched and his lyrics are phenomenal. (check out Section .80)

10. Tyler, the Creator - I know that the first 9 on this list are all storytelling, socially conscious rappers but I love this kid. His voice, his gruesome and funny lyrics are just great and the fact that he can do serious songs proves he's good, plus his flow is great. (check out Bastard)

Honorable Mentions: Big K.R.I.T., Reks, B Real, Chuck D, Tech N9ne, 50 Cent, Earl Sweatshirt and Joey Bada$$.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Linkin Park - Living Things" Review by Dom

Linkin Park. Do they even need an introduction? In my opinion, no, but I'm gonna do one anyway. To the 90s kids, they are a band who released two of the greatest albums of our generation, then they dropped off. I'm of course talking about the classics Hybrid Theory and Meteora. With songs like "In the End", "Numb" and "Points of Authority", Linkin Park had set themselves up to become legendary. Then 2007's Minutes to Midnight split fans into two groups, those who liked it, and those who hated it. It was a shift in sound to a more straightforward rock sound. Then 2010's A Thousand Suns dropped and it alienated the fans that made Linkin Park big. With Living Things Linkin Park talked of going back to their roots and to a sound more influenced by their first two albums. But this has been said before by many bands, and most didn't live up to the hype. Did Living Things live up to the hype and the hopes of all of the original Linkin Park fans?

(DISCLAIMER)- While I try to be unbiased with my reviews Linkin Park is one of those bands that I will love no matter how terrible they became because of their first two albums, I will attempt to be fair but I apologize if it doesn't seem like it.

1. Lost in the Echo - Shockingly LP starts this album off with possibly my favorite song on the album. Mike is rapping again, Chester's chorus is amazing and he screams again. This song is a great song, and a great way to open the album.

2. In My Remains - This song is actually pretty good as well, the verses remind me of the slower Meteora tracks blended with a Minutes to Midnight-esque chorus. They blend it well and this track is pretty good.

3. Burn it Down - For most people, this was the first track they heard off of the album as it was the lead single. While I usually hate the singles off of most albums I actually enjoy this one. It's got more of the A Thousand Suns sound but I don't know, I like the song, it's catchy and I can't really ask for more from the band.

4. Lies Greed Money - This track is weird for me, it's got the new "electronic" vibe of the last album but it's constructed like Hybrid Theory songs. I'll try to explain, Mike is rapping the verses and Chester is singing/yelling the chorus ,it's got the spazzy/sporadic-ness to it that reminds me of Hybrid Theory, I like it and I don't at the same time.

5. I'll Be Gone - This track could've been released with Minutes to Midnight, it sounds like an unused song from the album, and that's not a complaint. Good verses with a powerful chorus, it's what Linkin Park has come to be known for.

6. Castle of Glass - This song stands out, and not in the best way, it's different, it's slower but not like the songs LP is used to doing. It features a lower-range of vocals, it's not bad, it catches you off guard at first but it's not one you revisit much.

7. Victimized - A short under 2 minute blast of older-style Linkin Park, Mike rapping, Chester screaming, not much else to say, it's a hell of a song, but I wish it was longer although it works as a short song.

8. Roads Untraveled - This track is a polar opposite of "Victimized", it's a slow, mostly piano driven song. It's nice to hear Mike and Chester both singing, neither stretching their vocals too much, mostly doing lower register vocals, it works for the song. I like it, but I don't revisit the track much, it's a filler track that you don't skip if it's on, but you don't go looking for it.

9. Skin to Bone - One of the more interesting sounding tracks on the album, with Mike providing more singing vocals instead of his usual rapping, this song is straight filler, I find it hard to finish.

10. Until it Breaks - Mike is finally rapping up to par with his older days and even to his Fort Minor material, this track sees him using pretty good wordplay and his flow sounds great. Oddly enough, Chester's chorus seems lacking on this track and the bridge sucks. No other way to put it, overall not a bad song.

11. Tinfoil - A short, minute and ten second interlude track used for ambiance. It sounds good leading into the last track but it's not really serving a purpose.

12. Powerless - A slow track to end the album, albeit powerful(no pun intended). It's a personal track and the first track that I finally feel like real heart was put into. I'm not sure how to explain it, it just has a very personal feel to it. As a track, it's okay, nothing too special about it.

Overall - First off, let me get this out of the way, I loved Hybrid Theory and Meteora, I liked Minutes to Midnight and I hated A Thousand Suns. Going into this I was not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised with this album. While it won't win all of it's original fans back it's a step in the right direction and if they continue in this direction I believe more people will look back on this album as a good album. For now, I think people will still be split. The best way I can explain the sound is A Thousand Suns and Minutes to Midnight put together with a couple shots of Meteora put in. If you're not familiar with Linkin Park, don't start with this album, start with the classics. If you're a 90s kid, you will always love Linkin Park, do them a favor and listen to this album, you may be surprised. Basically, if you enjoy the track "Lost in the Echo" you'll mostly enjoy the album, if not, then you most likely won't.

Rating - 6.5/10

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Far From Proper - Rock Bottom" Review by Dom

Far From Proper is a pop-punk band from Poughkeepsie, NY comprised of band members Nick Harrison, Matt O'Rourke, Angelo Estrada, Tyler Muller and Jesse Walsh. This EP is the band's second EP following 2010's Talk All You Want. If you're familiar with pop-punk then this band does not stray too far from the overall sound. While not a very original EP it's definitely a worthy album to own and listen to. This band can compete with pop-punk heavyweights.

1. Runaround - A pretty fantastic opener with some deep lyrics about the loss of someone close.

2. Fight or Flight (featuring Jesse Vadala of With the Punches) - This has become one of my favorite songs from this album. This song picks up the pace a bit and Jesse's guest vocals are a great addition to the song.

3. Oak Grove - Another quality song by the band, more or less a typical pop-punk song but it's a great song never the less.

4. Kratzen Jammer - Surprisingly I like this song a lot, a quick 44 seconds and the punk gets put back in pop-punk.

5. Rock Bottom - The title track, a lot rides on a title track, this one pulls it out and becomes my favorite track on the album. The lyrics shine on this one and I think they speak to anyone and everyone.

6. Save a Seat - A slower song, I'm not sure what it is about this song but I can't get into it. It's got good lyrics but overall I think it would've been a better track had it been acoustic.

7. Killadelphia - Final track on this short EP, it ends the album on an upbeat note and it's a good song, what more could you ask for?

Overall - For a local band the production on this EP is amazing, it's crisp and clear but somehow retains a type of rawness which works in the band's favor. Definitely pick up this EP, also if you get the chance see the band live, the live show is amazing and incredibly fun.

Rating - 9/10

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Yelawolf - Radioactive" Review by Dom

Since I haven't been able to dive into requests and recent hip hop releases I thought I'd review my favorite hip hop album from last year: Yelawolf's Radioactive. Technically this is his second studio album, he released Creek Water back in 2005 independently. It's been six years, 2 EP's and many mixtapes later we now have his major label debut. Yela got signed by Eminem's label, Shady Records. Yelawolf is part of the Shady 2.0 era which includes Eminem and rap-powerhouse Slaughterhouse which includes Royce da 5'9", Joe Budden, Crooked I and Joell Ortiz. It's safe to say Em is going for a more lyrical staple of artists and he is succeeding. So does Yelawolf measure up to Slaughterhouse and Eminem on Shady records?

1. Radioactive Introduction - While the track starts out slow, Yela goes off on it and it sets the album up to be a monster album.

2. Get Away (featuring Shawty Fatt and Mystikal) - This track shows off Yela's lyricism and even more importantly his impressive flow. This man has one of the most unique flows. The features on this song do their part but Yela shines.

3. Let's Roll (featuring Kid Rock) - One of the singles off of this album and you can see why, the chorus is catchy and Yelawolf does his thing well. It's a good chill song.

4. Hard White (In the Club) [featuring Lil Jon] - The second single off of this and Yelawolf shines on this song showing that his flow can be played in the club. Lil Jon adds to it with his crunk-style of rapping but he stays in the background, not providing a verse which probably worked in the song's favor.

5. Growin' Up in the Gutter (featuring Rittz) - With an attention grabbing beat and a hell of a chorus this song is set up for greatness. Rittz adds a great verse and the song just kills.

6. Throw it Up (featuring Gangsta Boo and Eminem) - Yelawolf absolutely destroys the beat, it's insane. Gangta Boo's chorus' and verse are decent but then we have Em's verse. His verse shines, so the track rocks off of it's verses, which isn't a bad thing. I almost think it would've worked better as a cypher-type song without a chorus.

7. Good Girl (featuring Poo Bear) - This song is a pretty average rap/r&b song, it's not bad, but it's not a standout.

8. Made in the U.S.A. (featuring Priscilla Renea) - A song talking about all the different types of people we have here in America, the chorus isn't too bad but the song could be better.

9. Animal (featuring Fefe Dobson) - One of my favorite songs on this album. Yela tears the track up and the chorus is great, what more can you ask for?

10. The Hardest Love Song in the World - An obviously slower song, but it's a good song. I wouldn't play it for my girlfriend but it's an enjoyable listen.

11. Write Your Name (featuring Mona Moua) - Another one of my favorites, talking about how all of the little people in the world make the world go around. Lyrically it's fantastic and as always Yela's flow is fantastic on it.

12. Everything I Love the Most - An introspective song about his habits that tear him apart inside but he loves at the time. This song showcases his story telling ability and in a great way.

13. Radio - A slower song, the only real gripe I have with this song is the length of the chorus, it seems to never end. It doesn't kill the song though, overall it's a fantastic song.

14. Slumerican Shitizen (featuring Killer Mike) - Yela as always tears this beat up. Killer Mike's verse is ridiculous too. Little did I know that my favorite featured verse would be by the guy who would make one of my favorite albums of 2012 so far too, R.A.P. Music.

15. The Last Song - This song s deeply personal song about his father. It's a fantastic song that you have to listen to to understand how great it is, I don't have the words to convey it's greatness. It is my favorite on this album.

Overall - While there were a few albums going for the top spot of my favorite hip hop album of 2011, albums like Common's The Dreamer/The Believer and The Root's Undun, I found myself returning to this album the most. It's got a great mix of songs that go hard, rap/R&B tracks and those slower personal tracks. This album is truly fantastic and hopefully Yelawolf continues with this degree of music. Look for his new EP with Travis Barker soon, also he's releasing his third LP Love Story later this year. If those releases are as good as Radioactive then look out rap world, Yelawolf is here to stay.


"Marilyn Manson - Born Villain" Review by Dom

Marilyn Manson. His name is synonymous with fear, controversy and just overall weirdness. I've always been one to look past his image and just listen to the music. Now, I'm not the biggest Manson fan, I enjoy a decent amount of songs and only a few albums overall but every time he drops a new album I always check it out. Born Villain is Manson's eighth full-length album and it comes 18 years after the band's first album, Portrait of an American Family. Looking at that album compared to the latest, it sounds like two completely different bands, except for Manson's vocals. Now Manson has been on this, slower, more depressing sounding album since 2007's Eat Me, Drink Me, which was a HUGE change stylistically coming off of 2003's The Golden Age of Grotesque. This more depressing style has actually been what got me back into the band, Eat Me, Drink Me is my favorite album by the band, over his classics like Mechanical Animals and Antichrist Superstar. So how does Born Villain hold up?

1. Hey Cruel World... - I've always thought albums should start out with a bang, with higher energy setting a tone for the album, while this song isn't too high energy it sets a fantastic tone for the rest of the album and is actually reminiscent of his Mechanical Animals album. A definite standout.

2. No Reflection - The single off of the album and the first song I heard off of it, at first listen I thought it was a bit boring but since I've started loving it. It's here that you can see that the band is trying to blend their new style with elements of their Antichrist Superstar-era and it's working fantastically, especially on this track.

3. Pistol Whipped - This song is very mellow, slower guitar riff with Manson singing to the melody over it. It's an interesting track, I'm feeling it. I can see a lot of people not liking this track but definitely give it a shot..

4. Overneath the Path of Misery - This track starts out with a truly creepy spoken word intro, and I can't tell who's talking in it, but it's very creepy. The spoken word leads into one of the more boring tracks on the album, the instrumentals have that more industrial feel as they used to but it can't save this song.

5. Slo-Mo-Tion - The uneventfulness of the previous track carries over into this track. With an interesting and rock-driven bassline the track starts off pretty well but just doesn't do much for me.

6. The Gardener - Another spoken word intro, this is one isn't creepy and this one lasts about 5 seconds leading into another prominent bassline. It's an interesting song, it doesn't fully have my approval but I love the chorus, maybe it'll grow on me.

7. The Flowers of Evil - It seems this album is suffering from what his last 2 albums did too, boring 20 second intros that do nothing for the song. This is another filler song for me, doesn't keep my attention, the chorus sucks too. At this point I'm just hoping the album will turn around.

8. Children of Cain - My hope for a turnaround did not come true on this track, the song is decent, the chorus is good but like a lot of these songs it's on the boring side. Listening to it you think to yourself "I wonder when the song will end", and that's not a good thought.

9. Disengaged - An intro that is interesting finally, it's weird and that's what Manson is supposed to be. Finally a better song, the energy has kicked back in, the lyrics are good and my wish for a turnaround has begun to come true. Hopefully the album closes out in similar style.

10. Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms - From the start of this song you can tell you're in for a more metal-style Manson song and it's good. It almost feels like a sequel to his song "The Fight Song" from 2000's Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). One of the bigger standouts on this album.

11. Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day - This is the type of Manson song title I've come to expect. High energy again, I love this song. Only stops for a breath for a few seconds, overall this song just does not stop. This is the type of Manson I love.

12. Born Villain - Title track, longest track on the album. This song returns to the slower style but it does it better than the mid-section of this album. It's a well-put together song, enjoyable.

13. Breaking the Same Old Ground - A creepy song, Manson vocals just get creepier the slower he forms the words. The title is interesting to me because, to me, this song captures what Manson's newer style is, since Eat Me, Drink Me it's been a slower style with powerful vocals and catchy choruses which is what this song is.

14. You're So Vain (featuring Johnny Depp) - Don't get excited Depp fans, he only plays guitar and drums on the track, no vocals. When I found out Manson was doing a cover I got excited, some of my favorite tracks by them are covers, "Sweet Dreams", "Tainted Love" and "Personal Jesus". The band knows how to do covers and make them their own. This song is no different, while I'm not too familiar with the original by Carly Simon I definitely like this version. It's got a creepy vibe, it's uptempo compared to the rest of the album and it's just a very good cover song and a terrific way to close the album.

Overall - This album won't be revered as one of Manson's best albums, that's a fact. That being said it is still a quality album and addition to the band's body of work. If you're not a Manson fan, I find it hard to see this album being the one to introduce you to Marilyn Manson. As always the production on this album is spectacular, and as always the vocals are the shining star. While he may not be the greatest singer in the world, his delivery, his creepy voice and the passion he sings with make up for it. While this album isn't as good as my favorite, Eat Me, Drink Me it's another step in a direction that I am fond of, especially when it comes to Marilyn Manson.

Rating - 6.5/10

Friday, June 1, 2012

"The Bunny The Bear - The Stomach For It" reviewed by Jon

The Stomach for it is the sophomore album of a newer up and coming band called The Bunny The Bear. TBTB lead by vocalist and song writer Matthew Tybor (The Bunny) and clean vocalist Chris Hutka (The Bear) is a Band from Buffalo, Ny who popped up on Victory Records in 2010. There first Album If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say, released shortly after their announcement of signing to Victory Records, was a breathe of fresh air. The Album was quite unique, blending The Bear's incredible high range with The Bunny's brutal low screams and erratic yelling all mixed in with the pretty bow that is their synthesizer and instrumentation.

1) Congregation - This was a great opener to start, it gave the listener a brief taste of the music that is to follow,  setting the tone for the rest of the album. This opener is also a nice change from the heaviness of the opening for If You Don't have Anything Nice To Say, giving The Bear a chance to take the lead for the album.

2) Sky - This song was used as one of the teasers of the song, it was a fairly unique song in itself. The speed at which The Bunny goes through his verse, followed instantly by the clean vocals of The Bear, is in itself the very definition of experimental. Overall definitely an interesting song to listen too.

3) All Birds - One of the catchier songs of the album, All Birds is a bit reminiscent of If You Don't catching that original TBTB sound. This song remains one of my favorite on the album, having one of the best sing along verses nearing the end of the song.

4) This Isn't Why You Made Her - Following one of my favorite songs is probably one of my least favorite TBTB songs. The song in itself is not bad, but the deliverance of it as a whole leaves something to be desired. I would suggest still listening to this song for it still embodies the feel of the album as a whole, it just seems to be missing that one spark to put it on par with the rest.

5) Soul - The first released single of the album, the song in itself is very repetitious yet catchy, seeing as The bear repeats the same few lines through out the entire song, only changing pitch every now and then. The real change comes from the verse, Screamed dominantly from The Bunny. I believe this song was a great first release, showing how the band has evolved since the release of If You Don't..., However after the release of the full album the song falls into the shadow that is cast by the rest of the songs on the album.

6) Breeze - Another one of my albums, all I can really say about this song is that like the best of TBTB it is incredibly catchy and incredibly fun to sing along with the bear. One of the cds must listen to's.

7) Lonely - The second released single of the album before its release, the song in itself was what got me excited for the album. Whatever the song Soul did not reveal about the style of this new album was in fact present in lonely. I would also like to take a second to note that this song is a perfect example of why they should make more accompanying music videos for their songs, for i found myself fairly entertained from start to finish.

8) I'm Scared Now - The synth intro to this song was fairly impressive, flawlessly merging into the song in itself. This song could quite possibly be called the heaviest song on the album, though the still manage to keep things catchy and fresh through out the song. This song is probably my overall favorite of the album.

9) Sheep - What more can I say about this song then the fact that it is a perfect example of the uniqueness of TBTB. Just when you think you have a grasp on the sound they are going for, a song like this comes on and you can only sit there and go "what?" I suggest checking this song out as well, if only to bring some uniqueness to your life.

10) Pieces - This song is another one that keeps you interested in whats to come next. Starting off as soft relaxing with The Bear when suddenly The Bunny comes in the song suddenly changes gears, the synth becomes heavier and the music adapts to give the listener a different feel. The song in itself feels like it is having bi-polar issues as the two parts fight for your attention.

11) It Kills Me - The song in itself is fairly well done though it is not as unpredictable as the rest of the album has been. I feel this song was a great way to close out the album, ending with light instrumentals carrying The Bear's voice towards the end all while The Bunny yells over it, wrapping everything up in a nice neat little bow.

Overall: While most bands on the Victory Record label begin to move closer towards the comfort of the typical genres of music, The Bunny The Bear does the exact opposite. This album is by definition very experimental and unique compared to many other bands that are being signed to record labels these days. For me personally it is this fact that has helped me grow to love the music they are producing more and more, the staying out of the comfort zone to experiment with new things. It is also for this reason however, that I can understand why other may not feel the same way about the music being written by this band. Regardless of this fact, I would like to put my seal of approval on this Album and suggest to those who are looking for something a little bit different to take a little bit of time to give these guys a listen.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

"Go Radio - Lucky Street" A Review by Dom

Lucky Street is the debut album coming from pop-punk/alternative outfit Go Radio. Lead vocalist Jason Lancaster might sound familiar to you, before Go Radio he was a part of Mayday Parade. With the band he recorded an EP and the album A Lesson in Romantics. This album led to a "Who's better?" argument between fans over Go Radio and Mayday Parade, and with good reason, Go Radio is a very good band. After their 2010 EP, Do Overs and Second Chances Go Radio started work on their highly anticipated debut album. Did the album live up to it's expectations?

1. Lucky Street - Pretty solid album opener, though it seems by the end of the album that it's a forgettable song. This doesn't mean it's a bad song, the ones to follow are just a bit better.

2. Any Other Heart - The first official single of the album, it's a high energy song, and Jason's vocals shine on this song.

3. Singing With the King - One of my favorite off of this album, I love the classic rock references, between Johnny Cash, Keith Moon and Elvis this song is an ode to the old rock n' roll days. It's a fantastic song and musically the song flows and sweetly as a river.

4. Strength to Stay - By this point in the album you start to get the feel of Go Radio's basic song structure and sound. Surprisingly Jason does some Muse-esque vocals in the chorus which really add some flare to this otherwise basic song.

5. Swear it Like You Mean it - This is one of my favorites off of this album as well, it starts off on the slower side and picks up in the most natural way possible and Jason's vocals show so much emotion in this song, it really shines.

6. Why I'm Home - Now this song was originally released as a non-album single on iTunes in 2010, and I wasn't too crazy about it. Here we find it on the album, reworked a bit and rerecorded and it sounds 10 times better. The original "Why I'm Home" was probably one of my least favorite Go Radio songs but the reworked one makes it one of the better ones.

7. Kill the Beast - Here we see Go Radio at full blast, with a fast song, fast-paced singing and a song that truly rocks.

8. Hold On - I was honestly shocked that it took to track 8 to find a filler track on this album. A mostly acoustic love song, which usually I love but it just doesn't pan out in the band's favor this time around.

9. Forever My Father - A song about Jason's father who passed away, I will expand more on this song at track 14.

10. Fight Fight (Reach for the Sky) - This a more experimental song, complete with a brass horns section. This song is great and if it doesn't catch your attention right away I don't know what will. A HUGE standout on this cd.

11. House of Hallways - This is a sad, sad acoustic song. You can really hear the emotion in Jason's voice. This being one of the emotionally driven tracks on the album it really stands up to the rest of the album and is truly a fantastic song. Even though it doesn't have electric guitar and a rhythm section on the song it still comes together in a big way.

12. Redemption in the Verse - We have arrived at filler song #2. This one is just on the boring side, the entire mid-section of the song seems to be "la di da da" repeated more times than needed. Overall, the only reason you'll remember this song is because the mid-section annoyed you.

13. The Truth is - Now THIS is a love song. I knew Go Radio had it in them. Piano intro with a soft backing band throughout the song and Jason's vocals over it all just makes a fantastic song. The lyrics on this one are amazing, you can tell the amount of love flowing from his words.

14. Forever My Father (featuring Erin and Daniel Lancaster) - Now this is a rerecorded version of track 9 with 2 additional voices, Jason's brother and sister. Being about their father it's obviously going to be a hugely emotional song, for all 3 of them. In my opinion, bringing in his siblings was a terrific idea, they can both sing, and it just adds to the atmosphere of the song. You can hear the pain in their voices, and that ladies and gentlemen, you cannot fake. This song has legitimately brought me to tears because the lyrics just apply to you and make you think of your father, in my mind that makes this song timeless.

Overall - This debut is fantastic, with just 2 filler/not so great songs Go Radio really pulled through with this one. This album along with their first EP make for an extremely impressive catalog for this band, hopefully it will continue. Go Radio's sophomore album Close the Distance will be released in August. The band is great, all the musician's do there job with precision and grace, and as I've said Jason's vocals are spot on. Also, Lucky Street was released in a deluxe edition with plenty of bonus material, 3 music videos, a couple demos, an acoustic rendition of a song off of their EP and a wonderful cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep". I would highly recommend buying this cd, if you have a few extra bucks buy the deluxe edition, it truly is worth it.

Rating - regular edition: 9/10
deluxe edition: 9.5/10 <--- That's a link to their merchandise, definitely pick something up.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Best Albums of 2012, So Far by Dom

Well it's roughly half way through 2012, so I'm just gonna do a quick list of my favorite albums that have been released this year. In alphabetical order:

Attack Attack!'s This Means War

Big K.R.I.T.'s 4evaNaDay

The Bunny The Bear's The Stomach for it

Chiddy Bang's Breakfast

Lamb of God's Resolution

Upon a Burning Body's Red. White. Green.

There's plenty of albums coming out soon that I'm excited for. Albums are coming from Big K.R.I.T., Chelsea Grin, Kreator, Meek Mill, Nas, The Sword, With the Punches and of course, Whitechapel. So look to see those being reviewed after they come out.