Yay! We are all caught up for the music releases! So if you thought that Monday's posting wasn't already enough music, here is what is coming out this week in music stores across the continent. As I am planing to venture into the woods this weekend, some of these album such as Zac Brown Band, Mumford & Sons, Everclear, and Stone Sour will serve as good injections into the music aspect of the trip.
Other notable albums such as Jesse Cook, Blur, Josh Groban, Raekwon, ICP, Millencolin, Sirenia, and From First To Last should not be ignored as well. I've had the chance to sample and few of the albums listed above, and I can assure you they are worth picking up at your local record store.
(Artwork by AFGM. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
(PS - Stone Sour's cover of "Creeping Death" is pretty epic!)
(Zac Brown Band - Jekyll + Hyde)
Those modes serve him well. His unimaginative voice can gum up a song, as it does here on “Dress Blues,” and he rarely moves past lyrical platitudes. When he evokes Kenny Rogers, as on “One Day,” it’s effective, but more often it’s a liability. As in the past, he’s best when excavating deep feelings. “Bittersweet” is about learning a loved one is about to die, and facing the impending tragedy with an open heart, and surviving it.
Even when Mr. Brown is taking it easy, though, the band is working hard, eager to show it’s trapped inside a flimsy box. Take the Celtic-ish blues of “Remedy” or “Tomorrow Never Comes,” a lightly gothic electronic-music-inflected bluegrass song, and one of the album’s most exciting. -NY Times
(Jesse Cook - One World)
*no reviews as of yet
(Mumford & Sons - Wilder Mind)
What we have with Wilder Mind, however, is a band on the adrenaline of trying something different; their valiance alone deserves a standing ovation. Gone is the barnyard chic, in come jeans and leathers… Now all that's missing is the songs.
The mood is undeniably mighty - there's a real ardency to the melodies, whether via Ben Lovett's keyboard or Winston Marshall's defiant electric guitar. But although the likes of 'Believe', 'Wilder Mind' and 'Ditmas' are all well and fiery, the formula is fairly routine and uninteresting. Some of the more sweeping riffs, meanwhile, could have fallen off the back of Coldplay's X&Y - indeed, an album made to sound as big as it could be. -Digital Spy
(Josh Groban - Stages)
Groban’s honeyed vocals typically rise in emotion as the strings swell in orchestral arrangements. His voice is big and studied, intensely commanding when he sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel” and especially suited to the melodic French vocals in the grandiose reading of “Le Temps Des Cathedrales” from “Notre-Dame de Paris.”
He knows his fan base and he’s not one to disappoint, yet “Stages” is not a strict by-the-numbers exercise. Kudos to Groban for opening with the soft sweetness of “Pure Imagination” from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and his “Try to Remember” is a memorable shift away from predictable string-based arrangements and into insinuating, lush jazz. -Knox News
(Blur - The Magic Whip)
If The Magic Whip appears less momentous than it should at first, it’s because Damon Albarn has refused to retreat over the years. The album may be a surprise, but it doesn’t come out of the blue. Albarn’s endless projects, which include operas, have felt considered, even at their worst. But they’ve only sometimes felt special. Plastic Beach felt special, most recently. The Magic Whip feels special too. -Pretty Much Amazing
(Everclear - Black Is The New Black)
If there was any remaining doubt that Art Alexakis could still pen a song that wields the ability to make you smile in one moment, then in the next push you to the edge of tears, those worries can now be forgotten. Black Is The New Black ushers in the return of Everclear’s wit and unabashed honesty regarding the often ugly side of reality. From the sexual exploits and embrace of drug use prevalent in “Sugar Noise,” to the exploration of waking up on the wrong side of the party life on “Anything Is Better Than This,” few moments on the last two Everclear records can hold a candle to the unflinching lyricism on display throughout this release. “Complacent” may be the best of the bunch, blending the sound of Sparkle with an ever-so-slight modern edge to make the whole affair feel intoxicating in an entirely new way. It’s familiar, yet undeniably different. -Under The Gun Review
(Raekwon - Fly International Luxurious Art)
A large percentage of the album, then, finds Raekwon in his sweet spot. The Ghostface team-up “4 in the Morning” is menacing Mafioso rap, mixing opulent horns and chaotic police sirens. Immediately after, A$AP Rocky joins the festivities on “I Got Money”, and despite the 20-year age difference, Raekwon/Rocky is a pairing almost as natural as Raekwon/Ghostface. Later, the brassy strut of the Snoop-assisted recent single “1,2 1,2” is another song to make Young Thug eat his words for saying kids aren’t interested in listening to relatively geriatric rappers; together, Raekwon and Snoop can count nearly 90 years between them, but they swap verses with impressive energy. On the other hand, the solo “Nautilus” is the album’s shortest proper song, and, as such, it offers a glimpse of the level of detail Raekwon can fit within relatively narrow parameters. -AV Club
(Insane Clown Posse - The Marvelous Missing Link: Lost)
(Millencolin - True Brew)
It's one of their biggest statements to date and comes as no surprise given how much praise or flack they've garnered per album. They're very versed in the punk game and by now, it's this experience that makes how well-honed these 13 tracks are come as no surprise. There are countless massive hooks, melodic riffs and an overall punk-anthem feel to so many tracks. "Sense & Sensibility" is the standout track on the record, indicative of everything I just mentioned, and it's a much-appreciated socio-political rallying cry against racism. Many of the tracks follow this same vein, some lyrically (see "Believe In John") but more so musically -- in terms of being catchy, honest, personal, and overall wiser jams. Of course, a few bangers do have cheesy lyrics but hey, what'd ya expect from Millencolin? They're unafraid as usual and always up for shooting the immature shit. One of their endearing factors, right? -Punk News
(Sirenia - The Seventh Life Path)
Another fine point is Morten Veland's guitar lines. Like the immensity of the Sirenia sound, when he rips off a lead it can be pretty damn awesome. The second half of Earendal and Once My Light have some terrific stuff, by example. But the best example is Elixer, a totally riff driven groove monster, and also immensely catchy. It's the best song here, and likely the only one that doesn't blend in with everything else. Otherwise, Veland's leads are rather sparse throughout, and that's a disappointment. All this said, when it comes to female-fronted symphonic metal, Sirenia remains a constant and consistent one (read: more of the same), and The Seventh Life Path merely another example of their presence and power in the genre. -Danger Dog
(From First To Last - Dead Trees)
Much of ‘Dead Trees’ suffers from both self-repetition and its sheer refinement, the band’s attack neutered by squeaky-clean production and a lack of any real menace or sonic bulk. The hooks are enjoyable but rendered unmemorable by the enormous focus placed upon them, and many of the big riff or breakdown sections don’t punch hard enough to make a real impact. Beautiful moments like the extended coda of “Never in Reverie” are dragged out; in contrast, album opener proper “Straight to the Face” collapses in on itself before it can really dig its hooks in.
A mixed bag of a comeback then from a group whose return has proven somewhat frustrating in multiple respects. Good and co. still have the chops to knock up a handful of anthemic instant-satisfaction songs to fill out a Warped Tour set, but there’s no real sense of occasion considering how long it’s been since we’ve had a From First to Last album, even with a frontman as gifted as Sotelo in tow. Everyone involved in the creation of ‘Dead Trees’ has put their names to better recordings – it’s a country mile of quality away from the self-titled D.R.U.G.S. album, for one – but considering this looks unlikely to be a full-time project, a return that conjures up more positives than negatives as this one does can probably be marked a success. -Caliber TV
(Stevie-T - Album of Epicness)
*no reviews as of yet
(Stone Sour - Meanwhile In Burbank...)
Truth be told, there’s not much else to say. The instrumentation is punchy as ever, even without Root (although I’m still cautious to hear what new material from the band will sound like), and the song choices overall are a great fit for the band. At the end of the day though, it’s a covers EP. Stone Sour don’t change the songs much if at all, you pretty much know what to expect. Do you like Stone Sour? You’ll like this release. Do you like hard rock and heavy metal? You’ll probably enjoy it. Personally I found it to be a great little distraction. We’re not likely to get new material from Stone Sour any time soon, but I suspect Meanwhile in Burbank… will hold me over for a while. -Dumb Music Talk