Thrice’s Vheissu is a welcome change to their expansive portfolio.With a greater piano presence than any album proceeding it, an eloquently melodic, yet heavy collection of tracks is made. Working alongside producer Steve Osborne (U2, the Doves and Peter Gabriel) after a nine month writing period, Thrice dripped heart and fired riffs to put out what is easily one of their top albums. The lyrics and overall sound come together beautifully throughout, but in particular on “Music Box” and “The Earth Will Shake”. “Red Sky” ,the final track, stays with you even after the disc stops spinning. There isn’t much that could be said negatively about this release except perhaps that eleven tracks isn’t nearly long enough. If you’ve never picked up a Thrice album before or if you’ve been a fan for ages, this masterpiece is bound to please. 5/5
Dark Light, the anticipated fifth album from Finnish metal band HIM falls short where audible passion is concerned.
This band has existed on a flowing, graceful metal highwire that isn’t visible in the majority of the tracks. It’s hard for HIM to completely let down their fans, and their magic and power is still there, but the deeper side just…isn’t.
Originally Dark Light was to be produced by Andy Wallace, but HIM felt he wasn’t aiding them in keeping their unique sound. They quickly filled the gap with Tim Palmer who worked with them on both “Love Said No” and “Love Metal”. The title track holds the slowly fading memory of the band’s past incredible accomplishments with it’s familiar haunting beauty and darkness.
Army of Me
This six-song EP from D.C. foursome Army of Me is a short sample of what the band can do and the type of sound they are trying to cultivate. The songs are typical alternative rock fare, but lead singer Vince Scheueman’s voice is what makes the songs and lyrics stand out. His vocals may not appeal to everyone’s tastes though, as sometimes he may seem whiny more than soothing, like in title track “Fake Ugly”. But the songs as a whole are definitely listenable, and they are even catchy and fun, such as “Frozen” and “Too Many Walls”. The varied pace of “Be By” illustrates the band’s capacity to go from a harder rock sound to a more melodic tempo, simultaneously displaying Scheueman’s range. But it looks like we’d probably need to hear more than half a dozen tracks before we can really judge what this band is capable of.
-Stephanie Ng Wan
The Bloodhound Gang’s 12-track album, Hefty Fine, is chock full of vulgar language, not-so-subtle sexual innuendos and songs incoherent to those unfamiliar with the band’s sound. Known for their daring and usually explicit and indifferent attitude towards normally taboo subject matter, the lyrics of Hefty Fine are anything but classy. But then again, if songs about flatulence, diarrhea and body parts are your thing, then maybe this album is for you. Sure it can be fun, and the “Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo” is a cleverly disguised title for the big bad swear word we all love-to-hate and hate-to-love (the first letter of each word spells out what the song’s real title probably means), but sometimes singer Jimmy Pop can appear monotone and redundant. They do mix up the pace on certain tracks, but we’re left wondering if there’s a single strong enough to light the roof on fire. Definitely not for everyone. 3/5
-Stephanie Ng Wan
Two years after his last studio album, Britain’s bad boy is back. With Intensive Care, Robbie Williams proposes a more mature record, yet remains his cheeky self. Although the themes are more inspired and the lyrics follow a somewhat more serious tone, Williams is still as enamoured with himself, opening his very first song with the line “Here I stand victorious, the only man who made you come”. The break from his previous records might come from the fact that Williams and his usual writing partner, Guy Chambers have parted ways. Now teamed up with Stephen Duffy, this record is up to his fans’ expectations. From the first track to the last, Williams takes us on a journey from the eighties to this new millennium with a very particular sound he has spent his entire career polishing. The songs might not be as catchy and diversified as those on his last album, Escapology, but this only makes for more grown-up listening. Robbie Williams has grown; but that’s just fine, because so has his audience.
The Summer That Changed
A collaboration of two solo artists, The Summer That Changed is a sweet, soft folk record that seems to channel hot, lazy summer days and innocent romance. It has elegant, simple lyrics and a sound that gently filters through your headphones. The interplay of the artists’ male and female voices is a nice surprise; one singing one song, the other the next, sometimes both singing together. The album is nice, but not fantastic. It comes across a bit too sugary and could use a bit more work both musically and lyrically. These UK-born artists may agree with your tastes if you like cute and sappy, but if you prefer more of an edge, this is not the album for you.
Chandeliers in the Savannah
(Dim Mak Records)
If someone could succesfully channel The Killers and David Bowie while smoking crack, they’d end up with Neon Blonde. Blood Brothers vocalist Johnny Whitney and drummer Mark Gajadhar have teamed up create this bizarre, eclectic and somehow catchy record. Whitney’s high pitched vocals lend an obnoxious rock and roll edge to danceable beats and make this album sound like nothing else. Each song is unique and the album has a serious ’80s feel, but it manages to put a spin on its influences and stay in the present. I’d buy this record just for the experience. To call it “unique” would be an understatement.
The Mouse and the Mask
Sometimes it’s necessary to state the obvious. MF Doom made an album based around Adult Swim cartoons with DJ Danger Mouse, of of Jay-Z’s Black Album vocals-over-The Beatles’ White Album samples remix fame. To give you an idea of what Doom was about in the early ’90s, the Five Percent Nation coined the term “white devil.” It’s appropriate that on the Ghostface-featured The Mask, Doom says he took his mask “off like a kufi.” Yes, Doom stopped sporting the kufi (publicly, at least) long ago. His days of wearing a bow-tie and selling bean pies in videos are over. We’re instead left with an artist who releases essentially the same record time and again to the Pavlovian applause of hipsters everywhere.
Brought Back To Life Again
The energetic new psychobilly album from this Danish band is a real treat. First recorded in 1992, The band took a risk with the rerecording and it paid off. The album is by far one of their best. The third track, “Movie Monster Fan”, has a killer alternate ending that fades with a subtle scream into the next track, “Driller Killer”. The whole album is filled with subtle little changes that only the old fans will notice. This album connects their past and present sound together. The Nekromantix may not be up to Montreal psychobilly or rockabilly band standards, yet this record still blows other bands right out of the water. This record is a huge accomplishment.
– Lindsay Wood