Browsing Tag
 It’s Alive emerges from the depths of the modern rock landscape with a sound that’s both somewhat unique and familiar enough to fans of Fuel and Linkin Park to stand out and fit right in at the same time. The rock sound of singles like “Pieces“; (currently making the rounds on Top 40 stations and satellite radio) will bring in the fans whereas single ready songs like “Back Into the Rain“; will bring in the pop fans offering the band a kind of “best of both worlds”; hook akin to bands like Saving Abel and Nickelback, although drifting between hard and soft is sure to piss of a few faithful.
Many of the tracks, deal with hardship in destroyed and broken relationships, the prerequisite power balled “Selfless“; focuses on such themes and its direct follow up “Refuge From The Wreckage“; follows in the same vein. Vocalist Zach Webb describes himself as an art-rock-fan with bands like Genesis and Nine Inch Nails, and while its hard to see any Phil Collins or Trent Reznor on Human Resources, there is a certain art to the way each some is constructed, although the album is light on poppy hook, it’s a lot more moody in the vein of NIN’s The Fragile.

The album gets a little sappy towards the conclusion with titles like “Fool For You“; and “Can’t Love Me“; how can they not be a little emotionally intrinsic? Surprisingly they’re still listenable in their mellow state but they’re still a far cry from the rock-inspired opening tracks and the mix on “Fool For You“; is excellent.

 Still, through it all, “Pieces“; is the highlight of the album and is the most accessible track to the average listener. Human Resources might have more of a sappy, love-struck, heartbreak tone to it than pure rockers would like but it’s an easy listen and enjoyable at the same time.

Missouri’s Cavo feel like valedictorian graduates from the Nickelback School of Hardly Rocking employing the same hook-line-and-sinker method of attracting fans that the aforementioned band has used to garner platinum selling CDs. Churn out a radio-friendly, risqué single that is highly polished and over-produced (and over-played) then pull the rug out from under all the new fans and release a CD full of power ballads that would make Poison and Extreme blush.

It isn’t that Cavo’s debut full-length is necessarily a terrible CD, it just isn’t very good or anything original that we haven’t seen a dozen times (this year) and hundreds of times over the last decade. In this post-grunge hard rock era where band’s with a ballad can draw in legions of lovely ladies to worship them because they’re sensitive its hard to believe this sort of thing hasn’t happened a few hundred more times. If anything Cavo and producer David Bendeth know what they are doing to make a multi-platinum selling CD.

Everyone, by now, knows the lead single “Champagne“; which lit up rock radio and hit number one on the mainstream rock chart. “Let It Go,”; the band’s original power ballad, was featured on the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Soundtrack this past summer. The rest of the disc is filled with bleeding heart, emo-inspired tracks that ask you to look deeper into yourself, but sloppy been-there-done-that lyrics detract from even the most tolerable songs. From the song “Ghost”; we get this gem: “I’m taking scissors to all of the pictures of us / I’m cutting you out but it won’t be enough / It’s never enough / You’re still walking through my memories / I’ll never solve this mystery / I lie awake with echoes and whispers of you / I’m still haunted by you.”; You almost need to check and make sure you don’t have a Cure album in your CD player when running through some of these tracks.

Again, it isn’t that the band even has ballad(s) on the disc, it’s that they were marketed and presented as something different, months before the album debuted to build up anticipation, when the disc finally dropped there had to be more than a few people who basically asked themselves, “Who the hell is this? This is the band singing about champagne and cocaine?”; Maybe with a sophomore album that harkens back to a more pure rock focused mix of tunes the band can overcome, after all they’ve already used up their sophomore slump on their debut.

After Midnight Project’s full length debut, Let’s Build Something to Break, is an engaging mix of hard guitars, excellent vocal work, and the excellent producing of industry vet, and Goldfinger frontman John Feldmann. Feldmann’s previous work with the aforementioned Goldfinger, The Used, Mest, and Good Charlotte has turned him into the pop-punk go-to-guy for turning out infections songs that draw the audience in and disc that bloom with depth.

AMP’s debut is highlighted by Jason Evigan’s vocal work which makes the slickest song ever more so slick and the album’s few disappointments still bearable. Screaming out of the game with “Backlit“; and the aptly titled “Scream For You“; the disc sets itself up as a rock anthem of sorts, sport arena ready to be pounding through one million watts of power in front of 70,000 fans. Things start to slow down a bit midway through the disc, however never to the ballad level that many bands seem to stoop to in order to make a point.

The production and mixing is tight throughout, however there’s still some sloppy lyrical work here and there especially on the odd “More to Live For“; who’s intro and lead-out is generally spoken word nonsense and perplexing to say the least. This is the only low point of the album which, as mentioned before, comes together exceptionally well in the end with great hooks and Evigan’s restraint from screaming in the modern day alternative scene where screaming everything equals making a point about your emotions.

Let’s Build Something to Break is a strong full length debut for AMP, its not the most original work out there and casual listeners may lump them into a collective group of bands with similar pop-punk undertones, but the more hardcore rock songs are sure to at least let them stand out from the pack a bit. The band appears ready to break out, and there’s plenty of good material on this album to light the airplay charts on fire.

Sick Puppies’ third studio album, Tri-Polar plugs into the angst-fueled rock that was all the rage in the late 1990’s with bands like Papa Roach and Stabbing Westward, occasionally sentimental but hard driving in the point of broken dreams, bad feelings, and loneliness that drove them to write a particular song about it. Tri-Polar mimics this throwback to ten years ago but actually breaks out of the mold halfway through the album as the songs become more low key with juicier hooks, less in-your-face lyrics, and a more subdued, emotional embodiment of the aforementioned angst.

The album’s first single, “You’re Going Down“; is the radio-ready package full of combative hooks, hard driving guitars, suitable for WWE walk-ins (which is exactly what the song is currently used for). “Riptide“; nearly tricks you with its “Brain Stew“; slapping bass introduction, you almost expect Billy Joe to start talking about numbness.

More often than not albums are usually front loaded with singles and memorable tracks, but Tri-Polar actually gets better as it moves along with some of the album’s best tracks, “Maybe“; and “Don’t Walk Away“; hidden near the end of the disc. These tracks are less about screaming and more about melody as lead singer Shimon Moore’s vocal prowess comes into view more than simply yelling about stuffy every other Limp Bizkit-wannabe has been yelling about for ten years.

The album isn’t perfect by any means and for every genuinely deep song there’s a throwaway screaming to back it up, but as an package Tri-Polar manages to convey the feelings of angst in two distinctively different styles (maybe Bi-Polar would have been a better name). Far from an earth shattering release, Sick Puppies settles in and delivers a decent album with room to grow for the next.

Halestorm’s sound is best described as chick rock for guys, where else are you going to hear a female-fronted rock band sing about how she gets off knowing that you get off watching her undress as in the album’s lead off single, appropriately titled, “I Get Off“;, makes you plainly aware of? This isn’t to say that Halestorm is for girls only, anyone with a love for rock music will find something to like here, but there aren’t too many good female-leading rock bands on the scene, so when a new one comes along, notice must be taken. It doesn’t hurt the case that Halestorm’s full-length debut is a competent and engrossing release either.

While “I Get Off“; is the band’s lead off single, the best track on the disc is the lead-off “Its Not You“; with Lzzy Hale’s piercing vocals and a collection of great riffs and hard driving drums. Other standouts include “Innocence“; with more a calm demeanor Lzzy is able to be a bit more melodic than some of the harder tracks on the album. The record seems to be front loaded, as most of the single-ready, rock-steady tracks are contained in the first half. “Familiar Taste of Poison”; could almost be mistaken for Evanescence at times with Hale’s vocal performance mirroring that of the great Amy Lee in tone and inflection. The album finishes out strong with the guitar-infested “Dirty Work“; and another of the album’s more memorable tracks, “Nothing To Do With Love“; with Hale screaming over herself in the chorus and sound damn good in the process.

The self-titled album is immediately accessible which is both good and bad for the band. The album, is at times, a little safe, and while the song writing is top notch, the sound can be culled into a collection similar sounding bands like Paramore, Lacuna Coil, and to a point Evanescence in that there’s nothing dramatically new here to stand out amongst the crowd. Now Lzzy is easy on the eyes, and her openness with lyrics like those contained in the aforementioned single will certainly get noticed, the band just needed more of a breakthrough. However, Halestorm will be new to everyone outside the state of Pennsylvania, and the band’s formation as pre-teens will certainly have critics talking and taking notice. Its almost as though this album is a safe way to get the word out and let the band grow and evolve once a national fan-base has been established.

This shouldn’t detract from an overall good record, but where it could have been outstanding the opportunity was lost a little. It certainly looks like this band is here to stay though, with major backing of a major label, the debut already digitally available for those who pre-order the physical disc, they’re riding the technology curve that has engulfed and destroyed other bands. While the sound may be trued and true, the old adage of if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it comes into play. Halestorm certainly does rock, as their motto goes, and there’s nothing holding them back from rocking for the next decade or more, hopefully they’ll take that next step in doing something truly special.

From the loud, bombastic opening single, “Hell Yeah“; (not to be confused with the band of the same name) Rev Theory’s Light It Up is a force to be reckoned with as the album starts pumping from its opening and never lets up the adrenaline push until the final cord is strummed and snare hammered.

Shortening their name, the band formerly known as Revelation Theory gives us an album that’s over far too soon, clocking in at only ten tracks, the disc’s length is its biggest hindrance, as there isn’t enough material to successfully sustain an audience for more than half an hour. Still, the tracks that do make it on the disc have a great replay factor, livening up a session of late night gaming or taking out some aggression away from the company of others.

Too often bands will fail to come through after a promising start (see Linkin Park’s Minutes to Midnight) as they draw you in with the fast paced, hard rock song and you’re later ambushed by songs full of feeling and a brooding so deep an emo band would be turned off. Yet, Rev Theory knew of this pitfall enough to liven up even the slower tracks with wicked hooks and a propelling chorus that breaks from the monotony of the melodramatic.

Tracks like “Ten Years“; start slow, drawing you into the sound, encompassing you in with a collection of slick riffs before opening up the floodgates and beginning the closing act of the disc with style. While the aforementioned “Hell Yeah“; is a modern stadium rock anthem, the title track “Light it Up“; and “Wanted Man“; each do their part in solidifying the band as one that is sure to stick around between periods at a hockey game or propelling through a sound system during a TV timeout this season in the NFL. Having already been picked up by the WWE, the band’s exposure is rising dramatically.

Aside from the shortness of the disc, clocking in a hair shy of 40 minutes, the only major stand out issue is some inconsistency in the tracks and a lack of variation. While it may seem interesting to praise a disc’s songs, and then call them too similar, the style of the music is great, you just wish there was a little more variety to them to make each one stand out as a work of its own. As it is now several bleed together at times, getting lost in the shuffle, and while this isn’t a major problem by any means, it is noticeable.

In any event, Light It Up is an excellent disc from a group of relative newcomers in the public’s eye. After heavy play on satellite and terrestrial radio the band has the momentum to light up the charts and keep rocking.

It’s 1965.  The scene opens on children starved for music to describe their anguish and turmoil…and then Dennis Hopper starts talking? 

Aging baby boomers who haven’t had a paying gig in awhile aside, VH1 Classic’s 7 Ages of Rock, which premiers Monday, December 17th, takes us from the turbulent beginning of rock, all the way through the stadium performance era, and present day.  For anyone that is a die hard lover of rock, you will love this seven part documentary special extravaganza.  There is a lot of original footage from concerts and television appearances like “Live Aid” and U2’s multimedia blowout Zoo TV, and a lot of interviews with the greats like Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Gene Simons (this special is worth it simply for his quote, talking about critics panning KISS, “…more than 1 billion dollars later, they can kiss my ass.”) and many more.


For the less musically inclined, there are still lots of things to appreciate about this special, including tons of factoids and wonderful chunks of music’s impact on history from Cream’s Disraeli Gears being the first album to contain a psychedelia sound, to the Rolling Stones performing at The Altamont Speedway Free Festival that resulted in 3 deaths (thus ending the carefree 60’s era), and even the stadium rock megaperformance “Live Aid” which raised money for Ethiopian famine relief. People who have an appreciation for the sounds’ impact on world events, that know rock has truly changed the world in some respects, can definitely get a lot out of 7 Ages.


All in all it was a very interesting special, but there were a few notable problems that were not able to be overlooked.  For one, a lot of the earlier content of the special centers around rock in the UK.  They talk about how the British youth took the tones of black lament, the blues, and used it to help them express their angst.  Unfortunately, they talk about it like the British invented the wheel with this concept, completely overlooking the fact that a decade before, people like Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley in the United States pioneered a new version of music, stemming from the blues.  Also, the narrative of the special was a bit choppy in parts, going a few years in history with one band, then cutting back through history with another, and then fast forwarding past that to go back to a previous band. 


In sum, 7 Ages of Rock isn’t going to change the world, but it is a very well put together documentary sure to entertain.  For the avid rock fan that pulls a Wayne’s World in their car when “Bohemian Rhapsody” blasts from the radio, for the want to be guitarist out there that strums the simple start to Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love”, or for anyone who just wants to flick on something on television at night for a week without being tempted to purchase anything Billy Mays sells on late night infomercials, turn on VH1 Classic and prepare for the history of rock.

It’s incredibly hard to stand out in today’s crowded rock scene, and there’s a lot of decent bands that get lost in the shuffle of a big release or two rappers warring with each other on the charts. Still, for those willing to take a chance on something else, but not completely different or unique, there’s plenty of acts roaming around your record store itching for you to purchase and give them a spin. Another Animal is precisely that band.

Forming another one of rock’s “supergroups,”; Another Animal (comprised of members from Godsmack and Ex-Ugly Kid Joe vocalist Whitfield Crane, storms on to the scene in their debut hosting a varied set of musical styles that keeps the album fresh throughout, but lacks some of the consistency you would expect. This can be attributed, mainly, to four of the five band members being credited as vocalists throughout the disc’s 44 minute runtime.

Each track has a distinct sound. From the very beginning with “Find A Way“; and its traditional Indian chanting leading into a soft guitar before the drums explode on to the scene and the frantic finger-work begins on the lead guitars you know this is going to be something different. From there the first half of the disc produces tracks which have a unique flavor by the band, but play the “sounds like”; game.

Find A Way,”; after it gets going, has a sound akin to Stone Temple Pilots, both lyrically and musically. “Broken Again“; takes on a tone attributed to Seether, sound similar to The Punisher single “Broken“; featuring Amy Lee by the aforementioned band. As the disc progresses, and the Ozzy like “Amends“; leads into the needless instrumental “Interlude“; the disc finally seems to take on a tone of its own. Maybe it is at that point when the listener forgets the preconceived notions of the band sounding exactly like Godsmack.

The album stays particularly on the hard side of rock, but takes a few tracks to show a lighter side. “Before the Fall“; features an easy flowing chorus and the aforementioned “Interlude“; breaks up the seemingly harder stuff from the softer stuff towards the end.

Another Animal’s members set out to define themselves differently than how they were defined in Godsmack, and for the most part they’ve succeeded. The distinct sound of Sully Erna’s voice is noticeably absent but made up for by the unique vocal achievements of other members of the band. Some parts of the disc will come off as sounding a bit too run of the mill at times, but the music is solid, there’s hard drums, and plenty of thrashing guitar work throughout to keep rockers rocking. This is a solid debut from the band, and while it may not be the most unique outing in years, it certainly gets the job done.

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