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