Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Music Releases For May 13th, 2014

The sun is shining here in Toronto and the albums are freshly unboxed and ready to be purchased by customers like you!  I am very excited to see such a large amount of great material coming to stores today, and to my ears later on today.  While I haven't had the chance to dive into every album on this release list yet, I have jumped on a few such as Avatar, Sumerian Ceremonials, Killer Be Killed, and The Black Keys.  All of which I will give a blanket statement of "great" as I am not one to dive into an album and start critiquing every single song on a numerical basis.  I leave that to the thousands of other reviews out there.  What I do though (like you've seen from the inception of AFGM) is that I like to find like minded reviews out there that can give a great overall statement of the album, whether positive or negative.

That being said, we still have to show some financial love to these artists if they want to continue making records.  Head down (or up) to your local record store for a physical copy of the album, or an online retailer.  If digital is more your thing, then be sure to purchase it from an authorized legal source.  Cheers and have a great day!

(The Black Keys - Turn Blue)

The black keys on a piano raise and lower notes to enrich and diversify a piece of music. Or, to use a more nebulous definition, they’re the ones that direct your emotions, the ones we have the most visceral and inexplicable reactions to. The Black Keys on your radio once had a similar effect. For anyone who remembers how this band started out, their success seems a wondrous anomaly - in an age of pygmies, here’s a dues-paying, staunchly-unglamorous blues-rock duo, together for more than a decade, who haven’t had to compromise everything on the way to becoming behemoths. Yet for all drummer Pat Carney’s righteous shit-talking of ripe (if low-hanging) targets like Nickelback and Justin Bieber on Twitter, his band have of late started to sound a little homogenized themselves, their arena-blues more a product of hypothesis than hard living, underscored by a reluctance to fuck too much with the formula that put them there. -NME

(Michael Jackson - Xscape)

Xscape is a prickly proposition. On the one hand, it’s a rare treat to hear ‘new’ tunes from the greatest pop star of all time. On the other, the LP is comprised of material Michael Jackson deemed unworthy of release, and even the involvement of the hottest producers in the game can’t hide the fact that this is the musical equivalent of Frankenstein — a soulless hodgepodge of demos from different eras cobbled together to make an unnatural whole. But, like old Frank, it’s impossible to deny that an unexpected spark of life surges through this monster.

Let’s start with the good news. Xscape is a marked improvement on the King of Pop’s first posthumous release, 2010’s abysmal Michael. The songs have been curated with more care and the assorted producers treat the source material with a reverence that was lacking last time. -Idolator

(Coldplay - Ghost Stories)

Three years since the massively successful Mylo Xyloto, and one of the world's most Marmite-y bands are back without regular contributor Brian Eno, and nothing as populist as a Rihanna duet. Aside from popping up on the soundtrack to The Hunger Games sequel, things have been relatively quiet from Chris Martin and co., and with Ghost Stories, the band have retained their recent modus operandi that they've had in place since Viva La Vida, namely just a handful of songs (9 tracks in total here) spread out over a short running time (42 minutes from start to end).

Inescapably, Ghost Stories sounds like a break-up album, but one without rage or hate, instead wallowing in depression. The most sonically experimental and lyrically insightful Coldplay album to date, both the lovers and haters are going to be surprised by this. Just don't expect to hear many of these songs on any future arena tours. -Entertainment

(Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies - Are We Not Men?  We Are DIVA!)

Hi. If you've joined me here, most likely you're still down with the shtick that is Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Personally, I'm still game. I love being able to sing along with an album immediately and I still love that classic Fat Wreck sound, having grown up on a steady diet of Lagwagon, NOFX and No Use for a Name. I love the title too, and it's funny timing since we just posted our Two Gregs One Podcast episode that featured a classic review of the Devo album its title is a play on.

We Are Diva! is already becoming my summer soundtrack and my teaching year hasn't even ended yet. This is windows down cruisin' shout-along fun, and I'm destined to embarrass myself by singing Cher with such enthusiasm at a stoplight. The album finds the punk all-star veterans breaking some of their original rules to mix it up nicely. It's yet another solid set from the Gimmes. -Punk News

(Various Artists - Sumerian Ceremonials: A Tribute To Florence + The Machine)

To me, Ceremonials by Florence + The Machine is one of the most timeless records to come out in years. The distinctive vocals and melodies, the orchestration and instrumentation, the production, the mood and the lyrics have made me enamored with the album. It is also one of the heaviest records in years to me… not in the sense of metal and aggressive vocals/guitars/drums, but in how the songs make you feel. The emotional conviction that Florence Welch gives in her delivery combined with the brilliance of Isabella “Machine” Summers and the production of Paul Epworth has made for one of my favorite albums of all time. -Ash Avildsen (Sumerian Records Founder)

(Avatar - Hail The Apocalypse)

An Avatar live show is part metal gig, part performance theatre. The manic ring-master persona that vocalist Johannes Eckerström adopts could be viewed as a style-over-substance distraction but what the band do is actually complement this visual with their inventive and sometimes eccentric metal so the performance feels rounded and complete. So, when confronted with the new album, Hail the Apocalypse, I’m excited to see how the band can draw all these strands together and produce something that captures the essence of their live shows.

There’s plenty of variety and diversity here to appeal to a broad spectrum of metal fans and if you’ve been impressed by Avatar’s live shows, this album (along with 2012’s Black Waltz) will not disappoint. This is a band of seasoned performers with the ability to create some fantastic music and deliver it with the character and personality that will only continue to grow their fan base from strength to strength. -Get Your Rock Out

(Mushroomhead - The Righteous & The Butterfly)

As with their previous albums, diversity is never a problem with Mushroomhead. Three vocalists deliver a variety of styles, and three drummers/percussionists bring a plethora of electronics, samples and beats.

Mushroomhead have developed  a signature style in their 20 plus year career, and this album features that style in all its glory. The Righteous & the Butterfly is diverse and well-written, with the new members fitting in well and J Mann sounding like he never left.

(Killer Be Killed - Killer Be Killed)

I was anticipating some really great trade-offs from three very unique metal voices and a collection of very diverse songs that touch on what they're all good at musically. While the products of the respective bands of Troy and Greg are very different, their tendency to be crazy and progressive with melody intact is shared.

This album is good, but it is way catchier and, this feels like the wrong word but, basic than some may desire. I would certainly insist that WAY more works than doesn't. However, I question if I enjoyed more because it is fun to hear these musicians come together. Would a metal fan that somehow doesn't know who these guys are like it as much as I do? That would be an interesting thing to find out. -Metal Injection

(Structures - Life Through A Window)

From the moment Life Through A Window's opener, 'Buried' kicks into full swing, the taste of bands such as Architects, Stray From the Path and Northlane fill your mouth.  Structures have taken many cues from these groups even within a few short seconds. It's obvious within one listen that Structures are trying to be all these bands simply under the one name. The funny thing? They've succeeded.

Structures have created a solid blend of bands and influences to create a really appealing release. To some, the chaos and sonic messiness may be the exact opposite, but 'Life Through a Window' comes across as an album that is either loved or hated. If you like your music full-on, heavy, powerful or strongly influenced, this record will most likely find a home on your shelf or iTunes library. -Kill Your Stereo

(Down - Part IV: EP II)

Just like with “The Purple EP,” DOWN has kept the raw approach and sound for the new EP, but the songwriting on this release takes it to a new level. Maybe they are getting better with age, maybe they just found a new level of inspiration, but whatever it is, it works and it works well. “Conjure” will forever be one of my favorite DOWN songs they’ve ever written, and the more I listen to the other tracks, they may be up there soon. For a die hard fan of this band like I am, I couldn’t be happier with the release. Whether you’re a fan of DOWN for the vocals, riffs, solos, or the powerful rhythm section, “Down IV – Part Two” has it all. -Skulls N Bones


(Rob Zombie - The Zombie Horror Picture Show)

Rob Zombie's first concert film, The Zombie Horror Picture Show is a feature-length concert film, recorded live over two sizzling nights in Texas. It captures Zombie's elaborate, multi-media production of mind-blowing SFX, animatronic robots, pyrotechnics, oversized LED screens and state-of-the-art light show combined with his powerhouse band featuring John 5, Piggy D and Ginger Fish. 

The Zombie Horror Picture Show, available on Blu-ray, DVD and longform digital video, puts the viewer at the center of the hot and nasty action for a blistering set of 16 Rob Zombie classics, including 'Dragula', 'Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Super Town', 'Living Dead Girl', 'More Human Than Human' and the crushing cover of Grand Funk Railroad's 'We're An American Band' from the seven-time Grammy® nominee's Top 10 2013 album, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor. -Amazon

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