Tag Archives: album review

Album Review: Gym Class Heroes, ‘The Papercut Chronicles II’

The Papercut Chronicles II Source: Fueled By Ramen

By Ashley E. Lang

Gym Class Heroes’ latest album, The Papercut Chronicles II, was worth the wait. Front man Travie McCoy brings the band to the next level with inventive rhymes and a killer back beat that will keep you moving throughout.

‘Za Intro’ provides a little taste of what is to come with the help of a mechanical voice over introducing the band. “Hi, have you ever wondered what it would be like to listen to some music? Well this is your big chance,” the monotone voice recites into echoing speakers.

‘Martyral Girl$,’ the first real track off the album, packs a punch right from the start. “I’m officially going in and refusing to come out unless I’m bloody, let’s go…” Referencing the shallowness that  has overrun society, Travie systematically releases verse after verse of hits. “Everybody here is extra hip like replacements … I’d rather be sedated than conversate about whose sneakers are more outrageous or whose outfit’s the latest…”

‘Life Goes On (feat. Oh Land)’ is a nice change of pace. Offering up a strong reflection of past choices before quickly moving on because, as Travie points out, life is too short to live in the past. “Starin’ at an empty bed my ex-girl should’ve been in, thinking what I woulda done different, not a damn thing cuz finally I’m done with it…You take too much for granted I just can’t understand it…” he snaps back.

‘Solo Discotheque (Whiskey Bitness),’ not only produces a slew of impressive lyrics but also includes a surprising old school twist of vinyl scratching between verses.

A personal favorite, ‘Holy Horseshit, Batman!!,’ is one of the strongest and deepest tracks off the album touching on the controversial topic of faith and God. “She reached her hand out with a pamphlet and I politely said “No, ma’am,  I mean no disrespect and I apologize if this f**ks up your program. You tell me I’m gonna burn for lying but that he can turn water to wine. Well if there’s a hell below then we’re all gonna’ be just fine…” He continues on to describe how questioning God created a turmoil within his conscious, posing the question of whether or not he is a lost soul in  the world where questioning everything around us has become a way of life. “Maybe I would be a fool to think that somewhere in the sky’s a place for me,” he spits back.

‘Nil-Nill-Draw’ touches on the problem with romance these days. A possible self reflection of a past relationship of a corrupt and jealous affair emerging with a semi chauvinistic quality that arises in the track as Travie spits “I could have any girl but I stayed with you, I guess everybody plays the fool…”

‘Lazarus, Se Gitan’ is a creative twist, following Travie through his journey of falling in love, but not quite finding true love. “Oh, I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places, oh somebody take me home,” he calls out.

Rounding out the album with the second to last track is ‘The Fighter (feat. Ryan Tedder)’. The Gym Class Heroes never let their guard down churning out hit after hit, “Ya ever feel like your train a thoughts been derailed? That’s when you press on… half the population’s just waitin to see me fail. Yeah right, you’re better off tryina freeze hell. Some of us do it for the females and others do it for the retails, but I do it for the kids, life through the tower head on, every time you fall its only making your chin strong.” An inspirational journey of never giving up on yourself and following through with your dreams because the only one who can keep you down is yourself.

The last track on the album is one of the strongest. ‘Kid Nothing And The Never-Ending Naked Nightmare’ closes out the track listing with a vengeance, “This is me thanking you dearly, sincerely, from the bottom of what’s left of my misery magnet. Guess I’ve been too busy being stagnant and if I ever steer you wrong grab the wheel and jerk it left. I’m only human but admitted I’m such a beautiful mess,” Travie rips into the mic.

This album makes you think. What do you want out of this life and whether or not you’re wasting your time on stuff that never really mattered. Travie is a lyrical genius and most certainly will not let you down. His band’s musical talents also will not disappoint. Every beat, every rhythm, every word uttered into the mic, will leave an imprint in your heart and your mind. Do yourself a favor and open yourself up to the Gym Class Heroes.

Album Review: Angels And Airwaves, ‘Love: Part II’

By Peter Stroczkowski

Love II is both AvA’s fourth album and the final release in the Tom Delonge-led project’s ‘Love trilogy’ including the first Love album and the 2011 space-narrative film Love. With the release of Blink-182’s newest album just a few months ago, it is definitely a good year to be a Tom Delonge fan.

However, the typically potty-mouthed and nasally Blink guitar player most of us knew and loved is replaced here with an overly-philosophical, misguided, but equally nasally bastard child of Bono and Jared Leto.

Angels and Airwaves have always struggled with this weakness: although their music is beautifully textured, composed and performed, it is weighed down by contrived lyrics, repetitive and unoriginal vocal melodies, and a frontman ultimately more concerned with living up to his own hype than connecting with his listeners.

Opener ‘Saturday Love’ combines an intro worthy of being called the pop-punk genre’s ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ with Delonge’s uninspired crooning.

To be fair, the chorus is catchy, but the rest of the song bleeds together with the many other forgettable moments on the album. It is clear with the droning of synthesizers, the endless pitter-patter of lead guitar played through delay pedals and the attempted anthemic vocal arrangements that Delonge and the band want very much to create mood and atmosphere within the songs.

The problem is that the songs are almost entirely mood and atmosphere: airy, see-through and lacking substance. The lead single ‘Anxiety’ sounds nearly identical to the band’s older song ‘The Adventure’, while ‘Dry Your Eyes’ is a blatant rip-off of older single ‘Everything’s Magic’, which itself was a completely derivative of The Cure’s ‘Close to Me’ and Blink-182’s ‘Anthem Pt. 2′.

This is ultimately what is so frustrating about AvA’s music: there are plenty of good ideas but rather than hearing these ideas expanded upon, altered or dissected, the listener is fed either the same thing or practically the same thing over and over again, with Delonge’s strained voice sounding significantly weaker each time. For many fans of AvA’s music, this very well may be a plus. For everyone else, at least we can hope for another Blink-182 album.

Album Review: Coldplay, ‘Mylo Xyloto’

Photo courtesy of Parlophone

By Ashley E. Lang

For over a decade, Coldplay has been streaming from our speakers, dancing through the air and finding their way into our hearts. With their newly released album Mylo Xyloto, they have most certainly proved why they have dominated the airwaves and will continue to do so for years to come.

Mylo Xyloto is beaming with whimsical rhythms, backed by a strong vocal performance by lead vocalist Chris Martin. Every track on Coldplay’s latest is another one for the books.

The opening track, “Mylo Xyloto,” is 42 seconds of synthesized joy and a perfect introduction to Martin’s charisma bursting out of every track.

Declared a concept album by Martin, Mylo Xyloto tells the story of two protagonists, Mylo and Xyloto, who meet and fall in love while living in an oppressed society. The album takes you through each stage of their lives from love to problems within society and the suffocation of higher powers where their only real means of escape is in their dreams. Martin sings “When she was just a girl she expected the world but it flew away from her reach so she ran away in her sleep,” in “Paradise.”

“Major Minus,” an edgier track off of Mylo Xyloto, warns of the dangers of a government watchdog. “They got one eye on what you knew And one eye on what you do so be careful who it is you’re talking to.”

Coldplay takes on a soft acoustic rhythm in “U.F.O.” Although less upbeat musically, the delicateness of the instruments proves to be a perfect addition to Martin’s vocal performance on a more sensitive track.

With a surprising twist, Rihanna delivers an impressive performance on “Princess of China” with Martin. As Mylo and Xyloto battle the evils of everyday life, “Princess of China” chronicles the pitfalls when love becomes a battleground. “I could’ve been a princess, you’d be a king could’ve had a castle on a ring but no, you let me go. I could’ve been a princess, you’d be a king could’ve had a castle on a ring but no, you let me go…you stole my star…cause you really hurt me.”

In continuing the sorrows of a broken heart, “Up in Flames” captures beautifully the feeling of loss and the hopelessness of being alone after knowing what it means to truly love.

Mylo Xyloto is a brilliant album that not only captures the human psyche but also devours the illusions of the heart from every stage of love, loss, and rebirth. Separately each track holds its own, but the tracks meshed together produce pure greatness. This album does not disappoint on any level.

Album Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, ‘High Flying Birds’

Source: Sour Mash

By Justin Muszynski

After leaving arguably the biggest British band since the Beatles, no one was quite sure what Noel’s debut solo album would sound like.

Soon after listening to the first track you realize Noel Gallagher was set out to prove he was the better half of Oasis. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds opens with “Everybody’s on the Run,” and it’s nothing short of epic. Ever since a version of it from a sound check was leaked on YouTube, Oasis fans have awaited a finalized version.

Noel doesn’t make the same mistakes that he did with Be Here Now, his latest album isn’t over bloated or overhyped. In fact, it’s rather mellow compared to his earlier work like Definitely Maybe. Songs like “If I Had a Gun” and “Record Machine (I Wanna Live in a Dream)” have moments of tranquility followed by a chorus that’s being belted out at the top of Noel’s lungs.

As you listen you’ll certainly recognize it roots from Oasis, however it’s the most uniquely sounding album Noel has ever put out. The guitar in this one is certainly different from Oasis albums. Instead of heavy distortion and a guitar riff after every other line, an array of instruments is taken advantage of along with several choirs in the background throughout the album.

“The Death of You and Me,” the first single, is like “The Importance of Being Idle” part two, an instant classic that cleverly surprises you with a brass section in the middle. “AKA What a Life” is certainly unfamiliar territory for Noel with its fast paced dance tune melody, but somehow he seems very comfortable with it.

Even songs that Noel himself described as not so good like “Dream On” deliver with lyrics that in typical Noel fashion sometimes don’t make much sense like, “The kids outside, they’re drunk up on their lemonade.”

High Flying Birds is a solid album that doesn’t bother inserting any filler songs, they’re all good. It’s better than any album Oasis has put out in the last ten years. We’ll just have to wait and see if in the long run it holds up to albums like Definitely Maybe and (What’s the Story)Morning Glory. It’s certain that Liam Gallagher, his brother and former Oasis frontman, has to be questioning his choice to move on to another band without Noel.

Album Review: Alesana, ‘A Place Where The Sun Is Silent’

Source: Epitaph Records

By Danny Contreras

A Place Where the Sun is Silent is a miserable excuse for an album. Unfortunately for Epitaph Records, the Raleigh, North Carolina natives produced a 16 song album for a niche that, while small, still hasn’t died out. This album is the epitome of bad; it is not pop but leans heavily towards it with many four chord songs, while also trying to appear tough with the rougher vocals that never truly fit into any of the songs.

The album is divided into two halves (three if you buy the deluxe edition which increases the song list to 24, please don’t); the first half is based on the first four levels of Dante’s Inferno, while the second is based on five through nine. They all follow a formula of simple song structure, annoying lyrics and on and off clean/harsh vocals. No songs stand out and the result is an overly bad effort.

“The Dark Wood of Error” and “A Forbidden Dance” are the album’s openers. The former is a two minute intro where the voices of the band members make the music and the main singer begins narrating a story. The latter is a power-pop song with easy to understand lyrics, even harsher vocals and no-catchy-tunes guitar playing. The bass is present, but very rarely.

The biggest slap to the face of music is song four, “Beyond the Sacred Glass”. It tries to be progressive, smart and catchy but it fails. Random time measures do not ensure a good prog song and neither does quick playing. It fails at being catchy because it failed at being progressive and smart. It’s too long and too annoying to be enjoyable.

The first half ends with “Lullaby of the Crucified,” an ironic song title because the album crucifies the listener. It is a more or less quiet song, which is why is titled “Lullaby,” but it is a bit boring. It doesn’t truly ever get off the ground, and the tempo won’t make anyone headbang, or hum along.

The second half only has two songs that can be reviewed as it continues being weak throughout.  “Labyrinth” is an okay song, nothing special, but not entirely bad. It does rely on a simple structure, but it truly is catchy. Not to the point of annoyance, but nevertheless catchy. “A Gilded Masquerade” is another song that remains catchy but doesn’t stand out as much. It begins rather comfortably and picks up a little bit, but never makes you hyper. The chorus is catchy and so is the drumming; I wouldn’t blame you if I caught you air drumming.

Overall, the album shouldn’t be bought. If you’re a fan, you should consider your music choice. It’s not fun, it’s not catchy and it’s stupid. And while they’re playing to a niche, anyone outside of it will not enjoy this album at all. What I fear the most is the legions of fans thinking they know anything about Dante’s Inferno from this misinterpretation.

Album Review: Mayday Parade

By Brittany Burke

In Mayday Parade’s third studio album self-titled, Mayday Parade, the pop-punk band from Tallahassee, FL proves that they have staying power.

While their contemporaries are feeding into the pop side of the musical charts, the boys in Mayday have actually gone back to their musical roots and were able to produce tracks much like the ones found on A Lesson in Romantics, the band’s first full-length studio album.

The album’s opening track, and first single “Oh well, oh well,” sets the pace for the rest of the CD. As lead singer Derek Sanders croons through the opening notes the, song quickly speeds up, which makes you forget that it is a song about heartbreak.

With songs such as “Call Me Hopeless, Not Romantic,” and the final track, “Happy Endings Are Stories That Haven’t Ended Yet,” it is clear that Mayday Parade has mastered songs of longing, lost loves and shattered hearts.

The first four songs on the album are melancholic with a slower tempo, but the momentum changes with the song “Priceless.” While the track keeps in theme with broken relationships, it is one that you can’t help but want to move to. I find myself subconsciously moving my head with the music, but it is a fine line between sugary-pop and pop-punk, luckily Mayday Parade seemingly refuses to cross into the mainstream pop world.

It is ironic that the most upbeat song musically, “A Shot Across the Bow” has Sanders singing a chorus of “I hope you fall into the ocean, and the current leaves you hopeless swimming around, as the waves crash over you until you float away,” but the irony works.

Mayday ends the album as strong as it started, showcasing Sanders’ vocal range and ability to draw in a listener. His vocals are backed by catchy instrumentals and end the lyrics end the album with a sense of hope.

Some may suggest the band draw inspiration and find other things to write about opposed to 12 tracks on just love and love lost, but why tamper with an equation that works?