With so many concept albums being so crappy last year (i.e. Judas Priest Nostradamus and Coldplay Viva la Vida or Death and All His Douchebag Friends), Sepultura take a stab at it again with their new album A-Lex. Their previous album was also a concept album based on The Divine Comedy and called Dante XXI, so this is not uncharted territory for them (and yes I still love that video and song “Territory”). This album is one heavy mother fucking album. With only one original member (bassist Paulo Jr. ), most fans have not followed Sepultura’s career without the Cavalera’s but they are sadly mistaken.
The album is lyrically based on the novel and Stanley Kubrick adaptation to film A Clockwork Orange. A-Lex literally translates to “without law” and it is also the protagonist of the novel. In the novel and film, Alex leads a life of crime and violence. He ends up being brainwashed by the State using a technique called Ludovico’s which is very similar to the Pavlov’s dog experiment with the added drug injection. That is it is used to associate things and for Alex they associate two of his favorite things classical music and violence. However, he ends up being defenseless, as well as harmless and ends up getting his ass kicked. He tries to kill himself after trying to being manipulated and the technique is reversed so that he can revert to his violent ways. Then he ends up being bored with the whole violence concept, thinks about settling down and starting a family. At the same time, he realizes if he were to have children of his own that they would lead a life of destruction and violence like his own. The whole concept is that violence may be part of our nature, but more importantly is our ability to decide at free-will. Now can you tell what this album is about, no way.
But this is some of the best metal I’ve heard in a while. Just like the book, the album starts off with some heavy violent thrash metal. As soon as the guitar kicks in, you know that you will have your ass handed to you on a platter. The mid range has enough to hair to it that you will start headbanging right away. On “A-Lex 1” it sounds like he is getting his gang together and then on “Moloko Mesto” is where the violence begins. Some of the most intense metal I’ve heard similar to Slayer and Pantera, but not as predictable as most of the metal today.
Bon Iver new EP Blood Bank changes direction and puts out this weak EP. The follow up to his masterpiece For Emma, Forever Ago is still in the works, but this EP shows the potential of what it will sound like. With only 4 tracks (one of which he experiments a little too much), this EP is suppose to wet your appetite on what may sadly come; a crummy experimental record.
“Blood Bank”, the title track, features electric guitars and strings. He continues with his reverb filled voice, but now he’s got an electric guitar filled with chorus effect to accompany him. The coda features a misplaced feedback guitar solo. It sounds like it belongs in a Radiohead tune rather than something from this folksie guy. He does continue to sing in his The Band like higher pitch vocal style and thats all that this track has going for it. The mood is right, but ends up in the wrong place (No wonder his band broke up they must have sucked). Listen to this clip with random visuals:
“Beach Baby” is the only track worth listening to on this horrible EP. Maybe I like his previous album a bit much, but this is the only track that harks back to that out in the woods sound. It’s got the typical acoustic guitar and vocal sound that works. The weird Hawaiian like guitar solo seems to work on this track surprisingly.
I swear I heard a toddler play piano like the intro to “Babys” in the local mall, but maybe that is the effect he’s going for. There is also an acoustic guitar that is strumming along, but this produces a horrible cacophony of nonsense. Constantly repeating “Summer comes to multiply, to multiply” sounds like he is at a point in his life to have kids or a “fleet” as he claims. One of the more straightforward lyrically pieces on this album. Unfortunately, I think babies make more interesting noises in their diapers than this song.
Daniel Martin Moore had no idea that he would be signed to Sub Pop when he submitted his demos to them the old fashioned way, via mail. Kentucky is not a place where many great songwriters come from, but we now have one to add. Being a nomad, he was contacted while working in Costa Rica in a bed and breakfast. If he had regrettably not submitted his work, we would not have this masterpiece we have today.
He is the shining star or golden folk child for Sub Pop. The album Stray Age features his vocals and guitar primarly as traditional folk albums of the 60’s and 70’s did. He may be the next James Taylor, Paul Simon or Bread of this generation. Sub Pop allows streaming of his album (click here (Note: You need to sign up for a free account)). Check out this video:
Daniel Martin Moore follows the traditional folk line with the use of traditional acoustic folk guitar (no electric guitars are present) and warm / gentle vocals. He uses the old trick of using a capo similar to James Taylor “Fire And Rain”. However, it doesn’t sound like he uses alternate tunings (a-la Joni Mitchell), but I could be wrong. The songs flow one into the other with only a few points where you will notice a difference all while keeping the feeling the same.
Antony & The Johnsons new album The Crying Light is a somber set of songs. With such a unique vocal style, you will find an interesting sound. The albums theme revolves around the theme of mother nature and mortality. Antony delivers a beautiful, yet annoying album at the same time. The music is very atmospheric and seems to be the strongest thing the album has to offer.
He seems to draw from a lot of sounds for his vocals. Some people claim he sounds like Jeff Buckley, but he sounds more like a Tiny Tim, T. Rex, Nick Drake and Nina Simone and not as good as any of them. If you like Nick Cave, then imagine that sound with a more lispy singer. His vibrato sounds so flamboyant you can’t but help laugh. Ali-G would call this guy a “batty boy”. He does draw influence from his musical influence Boy George and Culture Club, but doesn’t come away with it as cheeky. It sounds like he’s trying to be serious, but that’s the same as imagining Saddam Hussein as a comedian. Looking at this picture to the right, it looks as if he’s pretending to be a rooster (he must’ve got picked on as a child). The album is dedicated to a dancer called Kazuo Ohno.
As terrible and annoying the vocals are, he does feature some great lyrics. Generally of a somber tone, his lyrics from “Aeon” (or a long period of time or age) for example are :
“Aeon’s eyes forlorn
He contains the storm
He’s the pasture of my dawn”
In the single “Another World”, Antony sounds like he’s writing a farewell letter to the world and saying how he’s going to miss everything in the world such as bees, trees, snow, things that grow and the sun to name a few. He describes his world is nearly at end, but the way it’s sung it sounds like he’s going to a different dimension like heaven. On
“Cut me in quadrants
Leave me in the corner
Oh now its passing
Oh now Im dancing”
Franz Ferdinand new album Tonight : Franz Ferdinand rehashes their groovy Gang Of Four dance vibe, but it comes with a mellower laid back groove. They wanted to ditch their electric guitars for synthesizers. Although synthesizers are present as well as guitars, the foundation for Franz Ferdinand has been their extremely talented rhythm section. Like Steven Adler (former drummer of Guns N’ Roses), I believe if they ditch their drummer they would be making a huge mistake (unless they can get the drummer from Blondie or Gang of Four). In either case, the guitars are present so don’t worry if that’s what you’re looking for besides that’s not why we even listen to them.
There are more synthesizers spread out throughout the album. “Ulysses” already sounds different than the typical Franz Ferdinand song, but not so much so you can’t tell it’s not them. The lyrics deal with drugs a bit with “C’mon let’s get high” and “What’s a matter there, feeling kinda anxious?”. “Turn It On” includes a break that sounds like a rave/techno with the that familiar annoying siren sound. “Send Him Away” bridge sounds like something of a Doors album. However, the guitar solo features a 12-string guitar and the rhythm section seems to sound like it’s about to fall over at first, but ends up tightening up towards the end. The first break in “Live Alone” sounds like Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”. “Dream Again” features very little guitar and creates a dream like sound with the echo of the shaker. The chorus features a few synthesizers, shaker and is followed by an eerie 50’s Sci-Fi / Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie – like synthesizer break. “Lucid Dreams” second half features a moog or according to Franz “Russian Polyvox synthesizers”. It seems to give a nod to the Nine Inch Nails song “Ringfinger” or something you would hear in a club. This song could have been split into two, but it seems to work as one like a great story.