CD Review: Bad Cop Bad Cop “Warriors”

“Warriors”
Bad Cop/Bad Cop
Fat Wreck Chords
Tracks: 11

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

It’s been a hectic few years since Los Angeles punk quartet Bad Cop/Bad Cop dropped their debut full-length, “Not Sorry”. The band spent a huge chunk of their intervening time on the road like many bands do and in that time wound-up discovering some ugly things about themselves. Out of those experiences came a number of tracks which make up the band lasts release titled “Warriors”, the bands third album which features 11 new tracks which are once again being released via Fat Wreck Chords.

If the song titles and lyrics are just a glancing look at what was going on with Bad Cop/Bad Cop over the last few years it’s a miracle this album even happened at all. Thankfully things smoothed out with the four piece as the group’s latest offering “Warriors” is a gritty and searing album brimming over with pop-punk infused goodness making for a fun and enjoyable listen. Tracks like the albums opener “Retrograde” instantly had me moving with its sparkling guitar intro and catchy sing along chorus while songs like “Amputation”, “Wild Me” and the album’s title track “Warriors all hit with similar results.

Bad Cop/Bad Cop are living proof that good can come out of a bad situation and the group’s latest offering “Warriors” is a fitting testament to that statement. The band sounds better than ever and each of the albums 11 tracks has the potential to get stuck in your head for long periods of time. I found myself listening to the album multiple times and with each listen I was able to find something new to enjoy each and every.

Track Listing:
1.) Retrograde
2.) I’m Done
3.) Womanarchist
4.) Why Change A Thing
5.) Victoria
6.) Amputations
7.) Broken
8.) Wild Me
9.) Warriors
10.) Kids
11.) Brain Is For Lovers

CD Review: Doyle II “As We Die”

II“As We Die”
Doyle
Monsterman Records
Tracks: 13

Our score: 3 out of 5 stars

Former Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein is back with a brand new full-length solo album titled II”As We Die”. The album which was initially recorded during the “Abominator” sessions will be the second release from Doyle via his Monsterman Records and once again features Cancerslug’s Alex “Wolfman” Story handling vocal duties over the course of the albums 13 macabre tracks.

Over the course of the last few years Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein or Doyle for short has been on a relentless pace of record, tour and repeat. Throw in a handful of Misfit reunion shows as well and it makes you wonder when the band has had time to sleep let alone put together another full length release. II “As We Die” is the second portion of what was intended to be a double album. Originally recorded during the sessions for “Abominator”, II “As We Die” is the result of those sessions amassing an impressive amount of quality material that the band felt warranted two separate releases. I couldn’t have agreed more with the decision as where “Abominator” sets the stage, II “As We Die” solidifies the band’s sound with darker subject matter and even heavier instrumentation than its predecessor. Tracks such as “Beast Like Me” and “King of the Undead” blast out of the gate kicking and screaming with a bombastic amount of force and energy while tracks like “Darkside” and “Virgin Sacrifice” are reminiscent of Michael Graves era Misfits giving the album an eerie since of familiarity while remaining new and fresh. Though I found the guitar hooks to be less prominent this time around Doyle’s latest offering is still everything you would expect from the annihilator wielding beast.

Track Listing:
1.) Kiss Me As We Die
2.) Beast Like Me
3.) God of Flies
4.) Run For Your Life
5.) Darkside
6.) Witchcraft
7.) King of the Undead
8.) Virgin Sacrifice
9.) We Belong Dead
10.) Show No Mercy
11.) Dark Gods Arise
12.) Blood on the Axes
13.) Night of Sin

CD Review: Alestorm “No Grave But the Sea”

“No Grave But The Sea”
Alestorm
Napalm Records
Tracks: 10

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Ahoy, mateys! Gather ‘round for Alestorm’s 5th full-length album: “No Grave But The Sea”! An adventure filled to the brim with awesome pirate tales and party tunes from this trusted metal band. The album’s 10 new tracks contain a lot of what we know and love from Alestorm, but with some new added flair. There are plenty of great metal jams throughout, with just as many anthems and catchy choruses. The album embraces more use of harsh vocals on some tracks, blending them together with frontman Captain Chris Bowes’ great piratey vocals he’s known for.

Alestorm stays fun with jams like “Mexico”, which has a hilarious video, “Pegleg Potion”, and as to be expected their rager “Alestorm,” which is also a great blend of old and new in the band’s sound. Anthems are also present on songs like the title track and one of my new favorite Alestorm songs: “Treasure Island.” The whole albums leads you to an almost 8 minute long epic pirate metal masterpiece that has to be blowing out your speakers this summer.

Fans will love these songs paired with the rest of the band’s back catalog, adding more tales to the metal pirate journey. At some points the pirate tales begin to sound the same, but the band does a great job at really emphasizing on the newer additions. “No Grave But The Sea” is a ton of fun and definitely worth checking out. You can also catch Alestorm on Vans Warped Tour this summer!

Track Listing:
1.) No Grave But The Sea
2.) Mexico
3.) To the End of the World
4.) Alestorm
5.) Bar und Imbiss
6.) Fucked with an Anchor
7.) Pegleg Potion
8.) Man the Pumps
9.) Rage of the Pentahook
10.) Treasure Island

CD Review: Mastodon “Emperor of Sand”

“Emperor of Sand”
Mastodon
Reprise
Producer: Brendan O’Brien
Tracks: 11

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

Atlanta, GA rockers Mastodon return with their 7th studio album titled “Emperor of Sand”. The 11 track album is a dark and foreboding piece that revolves around the story of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence. Produce by Brendan O’Brien (AC/DC, Rage Against the Machine) and released via Reprise Records “Emperor of Sand” serves as the follow up to the bands 2013 release “Once More ‘Round the Sun”.

Ever since seeing Mastodon play the second stage of Ozzfest in 2005 the band has always been able to catch my attention. “Emperor of Sand” did that and them some as the album runs the gamut of styles and sounds over the course of its eleven tracks. Tracks like the rawkus “Sultan’s Curse” and the catchy “Show Yourself” featured more straight forward arrangements while songs such as “Clandestiny”, “Scorpion Breath” and “Jaguar God” allow the band to stretch their legs some while showcasing a unique range and diversity through a variety of tones, texture and subject matter.

“Emperor of Sand” is an entertaining album which offers something a little different each time you listen to it. One thing that always seems to surprise me about Mastodon is that despite being only a four piece band they have a very immense sound capable of filling every nook and cranny of your senses. Combined with the members impressive musicality and the groups continued use of unique subject matter “Emperor of Sand” is a must have.

Track Listing:
1.) Sultan’s Curse
2.) Show Yourself
3.) Precious Stones
4.) Steambreather
5.) Roots Remain
6.) Word to the Wise
7.) Ancient Kingdom
8.) Clandestiny
9.) Andromeda
10.) Scorpion Breath
11.) Jaguar God

CD Review: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes “Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits”

“Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits”
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Fat Wreck Chords
Tracks: 17

Our score: 3 out of 5 stars

Everyone’s favorite punk rock cover band, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes have compiled 17 tracks spanning their 8 studio albums for their very first greatest hits album. Simply titled “Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits” the album documents the bands 20 years together through a variety of reworked pop, country and R&B hits that will have you immediately singing along singing along.

If you were at all keyed into the mid 90’s revitalized punk scene then you surely at some point came across Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. The band which consists of a variety of members from various Fat Wreck Chords bands including NOFX, Lagwagon and No Use For a Name have been putting their signature spin on pop culture tracks since their first official release in 1997. From John Denver’s American Classic “Country Roads” to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” and Kermit the Frogs “Rainbow Connection” you get a little bit of everything the band has to offer in sleek package.

It was really great revisiting a lot of these renditions as it had been some time since hearing quite a few of these tracks. Each performance serves as a unique and fitting tribute to the originals making for an extremely fun listen. It would have been nice to have included some new material giving those who already have all the albums something more than just a glorified mix tape however, like the title implies why work when you can just sit back and “Rake It In”.

Track Listing:
1.) The Times They Are a-Changin’
2.) Rainbow Connection
3.) City of New Orleans
4.) Summertime
5.) All My Loving
6.) Straight Up
7.) Over the Rainbow
8.) Country Roads
9.) Sloop John B
10.) Jolene
11.) Uptown Girl
12.) Hats Off to Larry
13.) Desperado
14.) Lady
15.) San Francisco
16.) I Believe I Can Fly
17.) End of the Road

CD Review: Gary Clark Jr. “Live North America 2016”

“Live North America 2016”
Gary Clarke Jr.
Warner Bros.
Tracks: 12

Our score: 3 out of 5 stars

To coincide with Gary Clarke’s guest appearances during Eric Clapton’s 50th anniversary shows at Madison Square Garden and at The Forum in Los Angeles in mid March comes the guitarists latest live recording titled “Live North America 2016”. The album is being released via Warner Bros. Records and includes all new and unreleased live recordings from Clark’s 2016 tour which was in support of his acclaimed 2015 release “The Story of Sonny Boy Slim”.

Live recordings can often be hit or miss. Despite the recent advances in digital recording the main brunt of the work still falls on the artists to put forth a worthwhile performance. In the case of the latest Gary Clark Jr. album “Live North America 2016” is mostly all hits. Clark’s performance throughout the albums 12 tracks captures the listener’s attentions and holds it close. Tracks like the soulful “The Healing” and “Down to Ride” showcase Clark’s talents as both a player and vocalist while songs such as “When My Train Pulls In” and “Numb” capture a grittier side of Clark’s musical pallet.

Though I found the albums overall mix to be a touch off at certain points you have to know going in to a live album that there are going to be some audio short comings as there are multiple factors that come in to play with this type of set up some of which are not favorable for recording. However what is consistant across the albums 70 plus minute run time is the musicianship shown by Clark and his band. Each of the twelve performances that make up this album is sure to have something for every listener out there making it worth checking out.

Track Listing:
1.) Grinder
2.) The Healing
3.) Our Love
4.) Cold Blooded
5.) When My Train Pulls In
6.) Down to Ride
7.) You Saved Me
8.) Shake (feat. Leon Bridges with Jeff Dazey)
9.) Church
10.) Honest I Do
11.) My Baby’s Gone
12.) Numb

CD Review: Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo

Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo
Michael Schenker
inakustik
Tracks: 18

Our score: 3 out of 5 stars

Michael Schenker, one of music’s greatest rock guitarists has just released a new live album titled “Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo”. Recorded at Tokyo’s International Forum on August 24, 2016 via inakustik this historic concert features guest appearances from some of the greatest rock vocalists who have worked with Schenker over the years including M.S.G.’S Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, and Robin McAuley of the McAuley Schenker Group.

For Michael Schenker fans not fortunate enough to have been able to attend the “Michael Schenker Fest” last year in Tokyo, Japan the latest live offering from the prolific guitarist has you covered. Together with inakustik the listen is instantly catapulted front and center for a barrage of riff-tastic goodness courtesy of Schenker and, a bevy special guests from Michael various groups. Tracks like “Attack of the Mad Axeman” featuring Gary Barden, “This Is My Heart” featuring Robin McAuley and probably my favorite track off the release “Doctor Doctor” which features Gary Barden, Graham Bonner and Robin McAuley all side by side with Schenker and his band.

Though I found the albums overall mix to be a touch thin the performances on each of the albums 18 tracks more than made up for any audio short comings as each performance was quite enjoyable. I also liked that the release is available in a variety of formats (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray) allowing you to have two different experiences with the same release. Long time Schenker fans will certainly want to pick this up for their collection.

Track Listing:
CD 1
1.) Intro: Searching For Freedom
2.) Into the Arena
3.) Attack of the Mad Axeman
4.) Victim of Illusion
5.) Cry for the Nations
6.) Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
7.) Armed and Ready
8.) Coast to Coast
9.) Assault Attack
10.) Desert Song
11.) Dancer

CD 2
1.) Captain Nemo
2.) This Is My Heart
3.) Save Yourself
4.) Love Is Not a Game
5.) Shoot Shoot
6.) Rock Bottom
7.) Doctor Doctor

CD Review: CJ Ramone “American Beauty”

“American Beauty”
CJ Ramone
Fat Wreck Chords
Tracks: 12

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

Out of the seven billion or so people on the planet, only seven men have been lucky enough to be gifted with the Ramone surname. As of 2017, four have already headed off to that great gig in the sky. Thankfully, CJ Ramone has no plans to leave any time soon and his latest album “American Beauty” is sure to solidify that statement. The album which is being released via Fat Wreck Chords features twelve brand new tracks and is the follow up to Ramones 2013/14 album “Last Chance to Dance”.

Though the original Ramones lineup is no longer with us thankfully guys like CJ Ramone who was a member of the band from 1989 to 1996 when the band officially retired are still around and making music to fill that empty void. “American Beauty” is the latest offering from CJ and his band who continue to wave the flag for the originators of pop infused punk rock. With subtle nods to his former band mate’s tracks like “Let’s Go”, “Girlfriend In a Grave Yard” and “Run Around” all tap into that same appeal vintage Ramones tracks have but with a modern and somewhat updated twist. Tracks like “Without You” which features a guest appearance by Big Eyes front-woman Kate Eldridge is a catchy back and forth love song about being apart while the track “Tommy’s Gone” is a somber acoustic driven number paying tribute to original Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone (Erdelyi) who passed away in 2014.

Whether you’re a casual listener or a devoted Pinhead CJ Ramones’s “American Beauty” has something for you. From catchy vocal lines and pogo inducing choruses to overdriven guitars and thumping drums and bass the latest offering from a this true punk veteran is worth a listen.

Track Listing:
1.) Let’s Go
2.) Yeah Yeah Yeah
3.) You’ll Never Make Me Believe
4.) Before the Lights Go Out
5.) Girlfriend in a Graveyard
6.) Tommy’s Gone
7.) Run Around
8.) Steady as She Goes
9.) Without You
10.) Be a Good Girl
11.) Moral to the Story
12.) Pony

CD Review: The Bombpops “Fear of Missing Out”

“Fear of Missing Out”
The Bombpops
Fat Wreck Chords
Tracks: 12

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

San Diego punkers The Bombpops are set to explode with their first full-length album titled “Fear of Missing Out”. Released via Fat Wreck Chords the 12 track album is the follow up to the bands 2015 self released EP titled “Can of Worms” and hits with a sound and energy that harkens back to punks resurge in the 90’s.

Fat Wreck Chords has a long and fabled history as one of the independent leaders of punk rock music so whenever I get a chance to check out a new release from them I jump at the chance. Right from the albums opening track “Capable of Lies” to the closing notes of “All in a Day’s Lurk” the album is two parts nostalgia and two parts new as the 4 piece band consisting of Poli van Dam, Jen Razavi, Josh Lewis and Neil Wayne provide listeners with 90’s styled pop-punk fueled with modern day angst. Tracks like “CA in July”, “Watch Me Fold” and “Sweet for Sorrow” are definitely worth noting as they provide a perfect example of my previous statement.

If you were ever into bands like Dance Hall Crashers or Save Ferris then you definitely owe it to yourself to check out The Bombpops and their latest release “Fear of Missing Out”. Not only does the band/album provide a new take on a familiar sound each track’s catchiness is through the roof making it an album you can throw on repeat and listen to multiple times.

Track Listing:
1.) Capable of Lies
2.) CA in July
3.) Be Sweet
4.) Sweet for Sorrow
5.) Jerk
6.) FOMO
7.) I Can’t
8.) Watch Me Fold
9.) Forever Since
10.) Brake Lights
11.) Marry. Fuck. Kill
12.) All in a Day’s Lurk

CD Review: John5 “Season of the Witch”

“Season of the Witch”
John 5 and the Creatures
60 Cycle Hum
Producer: John 5
Tracks: 13

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

World-Renowned guitarist John 5 and his band The Creatures are back with a brand new 13 track album titled “Season of the Witch”. The album (John’s 8th as a solo artist) is being released via 60 Cycle Hum is the follow up to his 2014 release “Careful With that Axe”.

John 5 seems to be one of those guys who is constantly going and perfecting his craft. From his work with Rob Zombie and Rod Stewart to scoring films and appearing as a guest performer on dozens of albums each year the guy always seems to be playing. John’s latest offering “Season of the Witch” blends, twists and smashes a variety of genres leaving practically no musical stone unturned over the course of its 13 track, 37 minute run time. From the sample laden opener “Book of Spells”, to the Rush-esque “Guitar, Tits and Monsters and the layered back twang filled echoes of “Behind the Nut Love” listeners are take on a rollercoaster ride of sound and emotion as the virtuoso lets his guitar do all of the talking. Backed by an equally impressive band known as “The Creatures” consisting of bassist Ian Ross and drummer Rodger Carter the trio connects flawlessly providing an enjoyable listening experience.

Don’t let the albums brief runtime fool you as John 5 and the Creatures pack every ounce of musicality they can in to each and every second of “Seasons of the Witch”. Easily his most diverse solo effort to date John 5 showcases his ability and diverse tastes by blending country, funk, rock and metal with his love for the macabre into one cohesive package that provides listeners with something new each time you listen.

Track Listing:
1.) Book of Spells
2.) The Black Grass Plague
3.) Guitars, Tits and Monsters
4.) Now Fear This
5.) Behind the Nut Love
6.) Making Monsters
7.) Cr. Evil’s Spookshow
8.) Here’s to the Crazy One’s
9.) The Macabre
10.) Ddd
11.) Hell Haw I.G.R.
12.) Ode to Jasper
13.) Season of the Witch

 

CD Review: Dropkick Murphys “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”

“11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”
Dropkick Murphys
Born & Bred
Producer: Ted Hutt
Tracks: 11

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

Everyone’s favorite Bostonian punk band Dropkick Murphys are back with a brand new studio album titled “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”. The album (the bands ninth) is being released via the groups own Born & Bred label and features 11 tracks which were produced by Grammy Award winning producer Ted Hutt.

With a four year lapse since the release of 2013’s “Signed and Sealed in Blood” fans of Dropkick Murphys have had a bit of a wait for new material however with the release of “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory” DKM has made up for that lost time. The album opens up with a mostly instrumental track titled “The Lonesome Boatman”. The track which features gang like chanting serves as sort of a rallying call announcing the bands return. I found this to be a fitting way to open the album given the gap between this album and the last. As you make your way through the albums 11 tracks you get a spattering blend of traditional and non-traditional instrumentation mixed with vocalists Ken Casey and Al Barr’s signature Boston snarl. Tracks like the upbeat “Rebels with a Cause” and the rawkus “I Had a Hat” are classic DKM in their subject matter and approach while the 1945 Rogers and Hammerstein show tune “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is given a folk/punk makeover that is new and fresh while still paying homage to the original. Another track worth mentioning is the somber “4-15-13” which is the bands heart-felt tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

“11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory” is everything fans of Dropkick Murphy’s have come to love about the band and their music. The only negative I really found was as the title suggests the album is a bit short. Clocking in at less than 40 minutes I seemed to be through all 11 tracks before I knew it, the upside is the albums diversity makes it easy to listen to multiple times through without it getting stale or redundant negating its short run time. No matter if you are a long time fan of the boys from Boston or a more casual listener the latest release from Dropkick Murphy’s surely has something you will enjoy.

Track Listing:
1.) The Lonesome Boatman
2.) Rebels with a Cause
3.) Blood
4.) Sandlot
5.) First Class Loser
6.) Paying My Way
7.) I Had a Hat
8.) Kicked to the Curb
9.) You’ll Never Walk Alone
10.) 4-15-13
11.) Until the Next Time

CD Review: Judas Priest “Turbo 30”

“Turbo 30”
Judas Priest
Sony Music
3 Discs

Our score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

British metal legends Judas Priest are set to reissue their 10th studio album “Turbo”. Originally released in 1986 the album incorporated a variety of new technical inventions which allowed the band to challenge their creativity and push their sound as a band forward. “Turbo 30” is being released via Sony Music and features recreated album art work, a re-mastered version of the “Turbo” album and an unreleased 2 disc live recording from the bands 1986 “Fuel For Life” tour.

Having reviewed the bands last reissue/live release I was anxious to delve into “Turbo 30”. The band and Sony spare no expense to make sure these re-releases are top notch and not just an opportunity to sell their back catalog. From the quad fold packaging to the recreated artwork and original photos just the looks alone of this release are enough to make me recommend it. Disc one of three features a re-mastered version of “Turbo” featuring tracks such as “Parental Guidance”, “Locked In” and “Turbo Lover”. Despite being an analog purist the re-mastered version of the album did sound quite good however, were the release really shined was in the bonus two disc live recording. Much like the re-issue of “Defenders of the Faith” in 2015 “Turbo 30” includes an unreleased live performance from the albums subsequent tour. These live recordings sound amazing and just shred through your speakers as they capture the band in their natural environment. Not only do you get live versions of songs from the featured album but you also get fresh versions of some of Priest’s biggest hits including “Heading Out to the Highway” and “Breaking the Law” to fan favorites “The Sentinel” and “Electric Eye”.

As Priest albums go “Turbo” is probably one of the least re-guarded of the bands 17 studio albums however, the presentation and the inclusion of the unreleased live performance on this 30th anniversary edition make it a decent pick up. Even fans who may dislike the studio album portion of the release will appreciate the quality of disc 2 and 3 as the band sounds great.

Disc 1 Track Listing:
1.) Turbo Lover
2.) Locked In
3.) Private Property
4.) Parental Guidance
5.) Rock You All Around the World
6.) Out in the Cold
7.) Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days
8.) Hot For Love
9.) Reckless

Disc 2 Track Listing:
1.) Out in the Cold
2.) Locked In
3.) Heading Out to the Highway
4.) Metal Gods
5.) Breaking the Law
6.) Love Bites
7.) Some Heads are Gonna Roll
8.) The Sentinel
9.) Private Property
10.) Desert Plains
11.) Rock You All Around the World

Disc 3 Track Listing:
1.) The Hellion
2.) Electric Eye
3.) Turbo Lover
4.) Freewheel Burning
5.) Victim of Changes
6.) The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)
7.) Living After Midnight
8.) You’ve Got Another Thing Coming
9.) Hell Bent for Leather

CD Review: Lamb of God “The Duke”

“The Duke”
Lamb of God
Epic Records
Tracks: 5

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

Richmond, VA heavy metal band Lamb of God has just released a new five track EP via Epic Records titled “The Duke”. Written in honor of the band’s late friend and fan Wayne Ford, who was named after “The Duke” John Wayne the album features two new tracks and three live performances from the bands recent “Sturm Und Drang” tour.

Over the past few years Lamb of God has become one of my favorite bands both from a recording stand point and as a live band. “The Duke” EP is a solid blending of both of those attributes as rarely do you find a band that is solid in both. Both “Culling” and “The Duke” showcase the bands writing and musicianship. Randy Blythe again gets to stretch his legs vocally similar to his performance on the “Strum Und Drang” track “Overlord” as the EP’s title track flip flops between catchy sing a long verses and choruses to ear shredding break downs and backing vocals. The second new track “Culling” takes off like a rocket with drummer Chris Adler’s machine gun like double bass drums laying a solid foundation for the rest of the band to build up. The remaining three tracks are live cuts taken from the bands Rock AM Ring and Bonnaroo performances. Though I found the mixing of the tracks to be a little on the thin side each song was a still a fun listen and is worth checking out especially if you were fortunate enough to attend one of the shows where these were recorded.

Fan’s of the band already know that “The Duke” EP is a must have however what I think really stands out is that the EP is accessible enough to where new comers and more casual listeners can easily get into as well. The two new tracks and three live tracks makes for a fun familiar listen while adding just enough newness to warrant cracking open your wallet or dipping into your ITunes balance.

Track Listing:
1.) The Duke
2.) Culling
3.) Still Echoes (Live from Rock AM Ring)
4.) 512 (Live from Bonnaroo)
5.) Engage the Fear Machine (Live from Bonnaroo)

CD Review: Crystal Lake “True North”

“True North”
Crystal Lake
Artery/Cube Records
Tracks: 10

Our score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Japanese hardcore/metal band Crystal Lake has just released a brand new full length album titled “True North”. The album (the bands 6th full-length) is being released via Artery Record in the United States features 10 tracks which blend and blur a mixture of unique styles and sounds which instantly sets them apart from other bands in the genre.

Being somewhat unfamiliar with Crystal Lake I jumped in blindly as I hit the play button. Right away the band had my intention as the albums opening track “Alpha” teases your senses with underlying synth rhythms before hitting you like a ton of bricks. Vocalist Ryo Kinoshita pushes his voice to the near edge on tracks like “Omega” and “True North” while tracks like “Breathe Deep” and “Metro” showcase the bands diversity and musicianship as they bounce between light melodic verses, aggression fueled choruses and fist pumping breakdowns providing a unique rollercoaster like listening experience. Even if you are not a fan of heavy music there is enough substance in “True North” to make this a worth-while listen.

Despite finding some of the sound structures a little redundant mainly in the way of the albums electronic elements it wasn’t enough to pull my attention away from the core elements of each song. For fans of heavy music looking for something a little different give the latest offering from Crystal Lake a try as you won’t be disappointed.

Track Listing:
1.) Alpha
2.) Omega
3.) Hatred
4.) Metro
5.) True North
6.) Breathe Deep
7.) Black and Blue
8.) Six Feet Under
9.) Walk on Water
10.) Waves

CD Review: Jimmy Buffett “‘Tis The SeaSon”

Jimmy Buffett “‘Tis The SeaSon”
Released: October 28, 2016
Genre: Christmas
Length: 39:31
Label: Mailboat Records
Producer: Mac McAnally, Robert Utley

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

In our house if Jimmy Buffett’s music is not playing then something must be wrong. With the holidays coming, that is still no excuse to get in the mood. For the last 20 years, we have spent each season listening to Jimmy Buffet’s first Christmas album, “Christmas Island”. It is a must listen every Christmas season. So now finally after 20 years of waiting, Jimmy has released his follow-up to that album with “‘Tis The SeaSon”. I have to admit, I was hoping that it wasn’t going to disappoint especially how high “Christmas Island” was held in our household but it delivers nothing but non-stop holiday cheer and smiles all around. Definitely a perfect way to get into the Christmas mood.

Some highlights for the album definitely have to be the very funny “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” with its Parrothead version of the classic track. It is a must listen. I think I almnost have it down pat to repeat after numerous listens. “What I Didn’t Get For Christmas” is a great track written by fellow Coral Reefer, Mac McAnally, who also produced the album. Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” is easily one of my favorite Christmas songs and Jimmy has taken it and made it better!

Jimmy Buffett, the usual suspects also appear on the album including Robert Greenidge, Jake Shimabukuro and the lovely Nadriah Shakoor dueting with Jimmy on the classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. This entire album is done in true Margaritaville fashion and I literally loved every single second of it! These are classics taken my Jimmy and giving such a perfect island “Jimmy Buffett” feel to them. If you are looking for something new this holiday season, then look no further, this album has it all! Merry Christmas!

Track listing:
1. Wonderful Christmastime
2. Jingle Bell Rock
3. All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
4. Drivin’ The Pig (Manejando El Cerdo)
5. The Twelve Days Of Christmas (Parrothead Version)
6. What I Didn’t Get For Christmas
7. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
8. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
9. Santa Stole Thanksgiving
10. Mele Kalikimaka (Feat. Jake Shimabukuro)
11. Winter Wonderland (Feat. Robert Greenidge)
12. Baby It s Cold Outside (Feat. Nadirah Shakoor)
13. White Christmas