Rock Reviews You Can Use
Alkaline Trio – This Addiction = *** ½
I’m not sure what it is about most punk bands, but they have a tendency to mature with an amazing level of grace. There are some exceptions to this rule, The Offspring in particular, who have a tendency to succumb to the whims of the “flavor of the week” inklings and churn out subpar albums.
Alkaline Trio, on the other hand, has only focused on improving their songwriting and musicianship while maintaining their signature sound in the process. The upbeat song structures paired with negative viewpoints and self-deprecating storylines are what make Alkaline Trio so endearing.
To put it in a sonic oriented timeline, This Addiction fits in somewhere between From Here to Infirmary and Good Mourning. The “complex” (read as, over-produced) musical embellishments and song styles from Crimson and Agony & Irony are gone, but replaced by awkward vocal cadences and intricate lyrics. For the original fans, this is a welcome change as it harkens back to a time when Alkaline Trio focused on straight-ahead punk rock as opposed to heavy-weight, cumbersome songs. (That doesn’t make them “bad” per se, just different).
As far as the individual songs themselves, there are some interesting highlights to be found. “Lead Poisoning” (aside from the inclusion of the trumpet during the bridge) is probably the most straight-ahead song with an accelerator-to-the-floor feeling that doesn’t let up until the end of the track. “American Scream” is an interesting take on the conflict overseas as told from the viewpoint of those of us waiting for it to be over; though we’ve given up on holding out hope it ever will. The rest of the songs focus on the highs and lows of relationships: (“Fine”, “Dead on the Floor,” “Dine, Dine My Darling,” and “This Addiction”). These are told from the point of view that only Alkaline Trio posses.
Over all, This Addiction is a more than welcome shift back to what made the band stand out from their peers—smart, simile-laden lyrics with the swagger of guys you want to hang out with. Best tracks to blow-out your speakers to: “American Scream,” “This Addiction,” “Dead on the Floor,” “Off the Map,” and “Eating me Alive.”
Melissa Auf der Maur – Out of Our Minds = ***
In an era where the average music fan is building their music collection via iTunes downloads (or torrents, you sneaky devils), a more exciting and enticing frame of mind has been set forth. Returning to the concept of creating an experience rather than a “hot deal” at your local WalMart, artists like Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, The Pixies and Immortal have crafted unique experiences with their album releases. Joining the fray with her upcoming album Out of Our Minds is famed alt-rock bassist ̶ formerly of Hole and Smashing Pumpkins ̶ and all around artiste Melissa Auf der Maur.
Not only are her devoted fans treated to some of the world’s freshest sounding rock music of the last few years, they’re also in for a truly interactive experience. Out of Our Minds features a short film and a comic book all based on the concept of the album.
Aside from essentially owning her peers in setting the bar for a fan experience, Out of Our Minds is a pretty wicked album. For fans of Muse, A Perfect Circle, Black Light Burns or the Smashing Pumpkins (before Billy broke the band up), you’re in for some mentally entertaining tunes.
The title track opens with a riff reminiscent of The Walkmen’s “The Rat” and promptly shoves you into your own private astral projection ride…but for more sinister purposes than spiritual enlightenment.
In keeping with the ominous theme, “Meet Me on the Dark Side” plays like your conscience on holiday. Like the devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear, “Meet Me on the Dark Side” is an examination of one’s own evil side, and embraces it fully.
“Lead Horse” is a delicious psychedelic, blues-inspired stoner jam that would make the gents in Red Sparrows see, well, red. In addition, “22 Below” is sonically reminiscent of Alice and the rabbit hole, only this time she’s following the entrancing ̶ albeit creepy ̶ vocal work as opposed to the white rabbit, and the rabbit hole is really your soul’s core.
“The Key” has an insistent push/pull feel between the enticing vocal and the main riff. A consistent battle between two directions is achieved until the end where you feel you’re forced to make a decision, like a fork in the road.
So, if you’re into some adventures with your imagination and enjoy art for art’s sake, be on the lookout for Out of Our Minds and all of its accoutrements. To keep you enticed, check out the trailer for the short film here. You can also download the title track, here.
Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe 2 Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool = ***
wrote songs that could be considered “serious.” In fact he’s about on par, lyrically speaking, with the glam metal movement of the 80’s. Typically his songs revolve around some sort of spooky, sci-fi, horror, or sexual theme and they’re littered with “f%$#,” “yeah,” and “mother*%$#@”. If his lyrical depth was measured in actual feet in a body of water, your toes might get moist.
That’s never been his intention though. His songs are built around the single, basic fundamental of hard rock; it has to be loud, fast and an ass-kicking good time. There is plenty of that to be found on Hellbilly Deluxe 2 ̶ each song hits you like a ton of bricks and you continually come back asking for more. I would even dare to say that this is the hardest AND heaviest his material has sounded since his last album with White Zombie (Astro Creep: 2000).
Zombie’s band mates ̶ John 5, Piggy D and Tommy ̶ craft some down and dirty hard rock that is meant to be played as loud as possible. Songs like “Jesus Frankenstein,” “Sick Bubblegum,” and “Werewolf Baby” are guaranteed to get the party started.
Oddly enough, however, for every wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am track, there are some equally peculiar song structures. Namely, the acoustic guitar intro (albeit, really great in its own right), in “Mars Needs Women.” Truly, the two should have never been paired together as they’re simply oil and water. There are also some abrupt and uncharacteristic endings to most of the tracks.
One way or the other this is standard Rob Zombie fare and realistically that’s all that matters. Do yourself the favor of picking this bad boy up…at the very least to have something to annoy your Neil Diamond-listening neighbors with.