Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We Came As Romans - Tracing Back Roots

Overview: We Came As Romans continues to trace half albums.

We Came As Romans are a metalcore band formed in 2005 and Tracing Back Roots is their third full length album. Now WCAR has always been kind of an odd band for me, I don't love them, I don't dislike them either. For both of their previous albums I've liked about half of each, looking back I like their debut, To Plant a Seed more than their follow-up Understanding What We've Grown to Be. So when this album was announced I wasn't excited for it but I was interested in hearing it, especially after "Tracing Back Roots", the album opener dropped and absolutely kicks ass.

The Positive: The band really stays in their lane without straying too much away from what they're good at. Screaming, catchy choruses and some breakdowns thrown in for good measure. This album is definitely more clean/melodic vocally driven which is good when it's pulled of well. The track "I Survive" is fantastic with the Aaron Gillespie of The Almost feature complimenting the song so well and I have to say this song may already be one of my favorite WCAR songs. "Ghosts" is a heavy hitting song that hits all of the right spots and exhibits what makes WCAR great when they want to be. "Present, Future, Past" continues that trend and is balls out heavy with some surprisingly good lyrics from the band. "Never Let Me Go" is a near completely cleanly sung song but still works and ends up being a good song, somewhat surprisingly. "Through the Darkest Dark and Brightest Bright" is a song about the band, they even say "this is our song to remember all of the places we have been" and on it's face it's a pretentious song but they get a pass because the song is pretty enjoyable.

The Negative: "Fade Away" is the only song I can really call 'bad', it's uninteresting and shows how cleanly sung songs can fall flat. The other 4 tracks aren't bad per say, they're just not good. They suffer from what for me, can be known as the WCAR syndrome where one half of the album completely outdoes the other half. In this case it's the first half winning the battle with 5 of the first 6 songs making it into The Positive while 4 of the remaining 5 make it into The Negative.

Overall: The band did alright, this may go down as my favorite of their 3 albums but don't let that fool you, that accolade really isn't saying much as I didn't totally love their first 2 albums anyway. If you're a WCAR fan you'll most likely enjoy this album, if not, this probably won't convert you but I'd give it a shot. At 11 tracks and clocking in at 40 minutes it's a pretty short album, there are 2 bonus tracks on the Target version but I haven't heard them so my rating does not cover those but knowing WCAR, I'd probably like 1 of them and not the other. There are better metalcore bands and albums out there but this one deserves a listen.

Number of Tracks Kept: 6/11

Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Green Day - Uno, Dos and Tre.

Overview: 1 band, 3 albums, 37 songs, what could possibly go wrong?

NOTE: This is going to be a rather large review as it is a review of a trilogy of albums. I'm going to be doing each separately in a shorter manner if possible.

First up is Uno which is by far the poppiest of the 3 which isn't bad.

The Positive: Damn near the whole thing, this album recaptured what has always made Green Day a great band, good, fun, catchy music that you can sing to any day of the week. While none of the songs on the album are very deep lyrically, it's an incredibly fun album. "Kill the DJ" is beyond catchy considering the chorus consists of singer Billie Joe Armstrong telling us to "kill the DJ, kill the fuckin' DJ". "Carpe Diem" and "Fell for You" are probably my other 2 biggest standouts.

The Negative: "Troublemaker, I don't know why but I'm just not feeling this track very much, besides that, that's it.

Number of Tracks Kept: 11/12

Dos is probably the most experimental of the 3 diving into acoustics and even some hip-hop.

The Positive: Possibly my favorite track of the trilogy, "Amy", a beautiful acoustic track who's lyrics are phenomenal. "Nightlife" is probably a Green Day fans worst nightmare as it features a female rapper on it. Fortunately the chorus is too catchy to be real and her rapping isn't bad and the song works in the weirdest way possible. "Fuck Time" is an enjoyable song that could've been on Uno because it's light and poppy.

The Negative: I feel bad calling them "negative" because really the songs just don't stand out, they're not bad just not too great either. The intro track "See You Tonight" is okay but would've worked ten fold had it been an outro track after "Amy" instead of being ahead of "Fuck Time".

Number of Tracks Kept: 8/13

I expected Tre to be more or less the "leftovers" album but it's actually a stronger album than Dos.

The Positive: The opener "Brutal Love" is a fantastic song as is the closer "The Forgotten", both slower tracks but are incredible. "99 Revolutions" and even the 6 and a half minute "Dirty Rotten Bastards" are both songs that demonstrate how great Green Day can still be.

The Negative: The biggest negative for me is the song "Drama Queen", written presumably for his daughter he sings about her being old enough to bleed now, it just comes off as very creepy. A few of the other tracks are rather forgettable but nothing too bad.

Number of Tracks Kept: 9/12

Overall: The trilogy was a lot of music in a very short amount, it was kind of an overload but after being able to let them sit and listen to them, I'm glad that I did. You have the standard poppy album(Uno), the experimental one(Dos) and the one in the middle(Tre) and together as a trilogy they work very well. There's something here for everyone. If I were the band I'd release a Quatro, actually they did but it's a documentary so I'd release a Cinco that is pretty much a greatest hits of the trilogy in a 1 pack cd for the casual fan that doesn't want to spend the money on all 3 cds. These are good, enjoyable albums that deserve to be in the Green Day fans cd collection.

UNO Rating: 9/10

DOS Rating: 7/10

TRE Rating: 8/10

Total Number of Tracks Kept: 28/37

Trilogy Rating: 8.5/10

Kanye West - Yeezus

Overview: Yeezus Christ.

Yeezus is Kanye West's 6th studio album coming off of the heels of the Watch the Throne collaboration with Jay-Z. Kanye tried something new by announcing the release date a month prior to the release and giving no singles to radio. Kanye being Kanye still debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200. This album sees the production going in a more electronic style while Kanye returns to using AutoTune as he did on 808s & Heartbreak which isn't entirely welcome. As always with Kanye, each album is incredibly different from each other, with the arguable exceptions of The College Dropout and Late Registration. Now, anyone who knows me knows that my favorite Ye album is 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy so I was kinda hoping this would be MBDTF, Part II but it's not.

The Positive: There's some good Kanye on here still, his final verse on "Blood On the Leaves" is absolutely nuts and cements the song in as my favorite on the album. The beat by electronic duo TNGHT(check out their EP) is a banging beat that makes you want to go absolutely crazy. "New Slaves" and "Black Skinhead" take a close second with great beats and classic Kanye rhyming over them. "Guilt Trip" is an odd song with an extremely weird hook but it's infectious. I also think that Cudi was underutilized on the track but his voice is still always a welcome sound. "I'm in it" is hysterical in my opinion with my favorite line being "Eating Asian pussy, all I need is sweet and sour sauce" I still crack up every time I hear it. The closing track, "Bound 2" is a love song, yes a Kanye West love song, and it just works. It's a great song and it shows a side of Kanye we haven't really seen before but I'm hoping we get to see more of, possibly on the rumored Yeezus II?

The Meh: "Send it Up" and "Hold My Liquor" are incredibly middle of the road. The beat on "Send it Up" is a great beat but it's not done justice. "Hold My Liquor" is so mediocre it's ridiculous. The added vocals of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame is welcome but the vocals from Chief Keef aren't. "On Sight" is odd as well, hard hitting electronic beats with Kanye riding over them sounds good on paper but as an album opener it kind of falls flat but it's just good enough to stay out of the negative.

The Negative: One song, "I Am a God". It's a bragging track but it doesn't live up to a God-like stature. Kanye follows the line "I am a God" with "hurry up with my damn massage", it's very underwhelming, as is the entire album. I usually enjoy when Ye brags because he's good at what he does but this one just does not hold up.

Overall: I listened to this at least 6/7 times fully through before coming to a verdict on how I felt about it. Kanye is Kanye's worst enemy, his ego gets in his way. His past albums make us hold him up to a higher standard as many would argue that 2 maybe even 3 of his previous 5 albums are modern hip hop classic(The College Dropout, Late Registration and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy). Yeezus fails to live up to the standards previous set by the rapper, we've come to expect more from him. If you're gonna make a rap album and only have 10 tracks you better make damn sure that those 10 tracks can make a great album.

Number of Tracks Kept: 7/10

Rating: 6/10