Archive for November, 2011

BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE!

Posted: November 26, 2011 in Editorials, News Updates

No one can top Bruce's energy on the stage--he knows he's at home in front of hundreds of thousands screaming fans.

After the recent death of one Clarence “Big Man” Clemons, the former Saxophonist of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, many fans thought the words “you’ve just seen the earthshaking, ground quaking, record breaking E Street Band!” would never again be chanted at the end of a show.  After murmurs of another tour slinked their haunches around the tunnels and paths of the World Wide Web for several days, brucespringsteen.net, the performer’s official site, released the following statement:

“Well, things are starting to heat up down on E Street.  A lot of you have been hearing that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will be on tour in 2012. That is absolutely correct. The European dates run from the middle of May until end of July and are being announced this week. Info on the US dates and the World tour dates will coming up shortly.  In addition, we want you to know that the music is almost done (but still untitled), we have almost settled on the release date (but not quite yet), and that we are all incredibly excited about everything that we’re planning for 2012. That’s all the info we have for right now, but we’ll get back to you–real soon.”

There you have it.  The return of “The Boss” is upon us.  And I cannot remember anything that made me smile a wider, longer-lasting smile in the longest time.  But after having lost two founding E Streeters to various ailments in the past several years, will the new material be as good and will the band be able to recreate the monstrous power of the previous three-year trek across the globe?

"Magic," Springsteen's 2007 smash record

I was lucky enough to catch Springsteen and the band twice on the Magic tour, once with former organ player Danny Federici, who was claimed by cancer towards the end of the Magic tour.  Working on a Dream, E Street’s last album, was the first to lack Federici on organ.  The songs lacked some energy and originality and the overall album paled in comparison to its gigantic predecessor, Magic, which Rolling Stone Magazine awarded 5 stars.

"Working on a Dream," Springsteen's most recent studio release, which was mostly recorded during breaks on the "Magic" tour.

Thus, keeping the loss of another, and even more renowned member, Clarence Clemons, in mind, I cannot see how this new record will blow anyone away.  Springsteen always names Clemons as one of his closest friends, and one of the most important contributors to his music and overall image.  Admittedly, I enjoyed Working on a Dream but see it as a weaker Springsteen album.  The saxophone is almost completely missing on Working on a Dream and that extra “umph” that we all get from the Big Man’s solos on classic albums like Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town and Born in the U.S.A.  I imagine fans will notice upcoming performances’ and releases’ song’s Big Man-deficiency.  Furthermore, his last album just wasn’t fantastic.  Nothing else can be said.  Artists often release a lame album, but even Magic wasn’t as good as any of his classics.

Do I want to hear Bruce’s new music?  Of course: it’s always good, but not always as good as some of his older work.  I believe this upcoming release will follow this pattern.  Nonetheless, I am excited and hopeful.  Like any religious Bruce fan, every time I hear anything about The Boss, I get goosebumps and butterflies.  No one can compare.

(from iTunes)

The Sound Hound usually sticks to discussing rock music and occaisionally hit up some Hip-Hop news, but lately, house music and electro has become extremely popular.  One of my favorite house artists is Deadmau5, so in sticking with the motto of “sending our shtick on music your way,” here’s what The Sound Hound has to say about  “Aural Psynapse,” Deadmau5’s newest single:

The song starts with mellow keyboards and builds up to the inevitable beat-drop.  The introductory piano pattern is relaxing and even kind of funky. I can totally see this as a good song to play if a really great pump-up song has just ended and people are ready to take a little break from hardcore dancing.  The partiers will get that slow fist pump on and still be able to chill out during the less slower sections of “Aural Psynapse.”  The track has lots of intricate textures and layers for which Deadmau5 is so famous.  Nonetheless, it is not nearly as complex or mindblowing as his biggest hit, “Ghosts N Stuff,” but definitely worth a listen.  The Mau5 has yet to disappoint.

Review: Coldplay: Mylo Xyloto

Posted: November 10, 2011 in Reviews

Coldplay returns to the charts with its biggest album yet, Mylo Xyloto (I do not own this image)

Back in the summer of 2008, around the time Coldplay released Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, you either adored the British pop-rockers or you hated them.  I fell into the latter category.  But that all changed with the group’s most recent album, Mylo Xyloto, which hit the record stores on October 24th, 2011.

The record kicks off with slow, melodic keyboards and bells of “Mylo Xyloto,” the first of three short, instrumental introductory tracks.  I am typically not a fan of these as they seem like filler, though “Mylo Xyloto” flows perfectly into the first full length song, “Hurts Like Heaven,” which climaxes with a chorus that seems to almost stop time altogether.  And that really describes the whole album: Mylo Xyloto is ambitious and monstrous that people should be excited to hear played in a grandeous arena rock setting.  The verses, prechoruses and choruses are all extremely catchy and the tunes are as consistently melodic as any classic Coldplay song.  Mylo is more heavily produced than any of the band’s past albums, as displayed by its synths, carefully orchestrated guitar solos and instrumental sections, and spacey vocals.

The album has a really BIG, powerful sounds, fueled by dramatic cuts like the lead single, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” with it’s tight guitar line, “Paradise,” a classically inspired tune riddled with a string section, the ever-catchy “Charlie Brown,” and the more experimental acoustic-electric mixture, “Major Minus.”  Mylo Xyloto rocks as hard, if not harder than any other Coldplay album and holds its own next to albums by arena fillers like U2, The Moody Blues and Radiohead.  This ex-Coldplay-hater highly recommends you put this dramatic release on your holiday wish list.

The first single off "El Camino" (I do not own this image)

The Black Keys, who took home several Grammys last year, including Best Alternative Album, are back, with the first single off the upcoming El Camino, “Lonely Boy.”   Check out the video for the song, which simply features an African-American man goofily dancing in a hallway.  Classic.  Nonetheless, the video doesn’t really match up with the raunchy garage rock n’ roll that resembles a mix between Creedence Clearwater Revival and T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get it On.)”  That riff is just perfect and once the keyboards kick in, the song’s momentum is just unstoppable.  “Lonely Boy” certainly sets high standards for El Camino, which the Black Keys will release on December 6th, 2011.  Also, here’s an advertisement for the new album, which the band released a few weeks ago.

Review: Blink 182: Neighborhoods

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Reviews

"Neighborhoods" marks the return of Blink 182 (I do not own this image)

Late ‘90s, early 2000s power-punk band Blink 182’ first album since 2003, Neighborhoods, just barely lives up to fans’ low expectations.  And how could anyone hope it to be any better?  In those eight years, guitarist Tom Delonge, bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker have worked in other projects, narrowly escaped death, had kids, and hosted their own TV shows.  The beauty of Blink’s earlier albums, specifically 1999’s Enema of the State and 2001’s Take Off Your Pants and Jacket is that the band was young: they could still rant about their high-school girlfriends and glorify having sex with dogs.  They can’t really do that anymore and still take themselves seriously.

Now that the members are “older and more mature” they get to sing about finding love, the meaning of life, sinning and lots of other sophisticated themes that Blink fans really don’t care about.  Delonge seems to have really taken control of the band recently, as he sings on the majority of the songs.  Songs on Neighborhoods also significantly resemble those by Tom Delonge’s other project, Angels and Airwaves, a clear fact that causes every true Blink fan’s blood to curdle.  His voice is pretty heavily auto-tuned, which pre-Angels and Airwaves Blink would never have done.  Also, since when does Blink use keyboards that are louder than the guitar?  It really takes the edge away from their songs, something that is really special and unique about their older music.

Nonetheless, there are some good songs on Neighborhoods, an album whose sound Delonge tried to make resemble that of 1980’s rock band, The Police. Despite its poppy keyboards and synths, the upbeat opening track, “Ghost on the Dance Floor,” is a really strong way to start the album.  The second song, “Natives,” whose complex guitar riff greatly resembles that off Enema of the State’s “Dumpweed,” flows in perfectly.  So far, the album is sounding really good.  That feeling remains for the next two songs: the hard-rocking lead single, “Up All Night,” and the poppy but contemplative “After Midnight,” which could easily fit on Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.  These songs do not, however, compare to the perfection of older hits like “All the Small Things,” or “First Date.”

With the arrival of the fifth track, “Snake Charmer,” the lyrics and originality of the record begins to dwindle.  The following “Heart’s All Gone Interlude” is an unnecessary introduction to Mark Hoppus’ all-out punk jam, “Heart’s All Gone,” one of the album’s best efforts.  The next three songs are pretty weak and resemble Angel and Airwaves’ sound way too much for a Blink 182 album. One of these, “Kaleidoscope,” another song on which Mark takes the lead vocal position, has a good riff and chorus, but what is with Tom’s echoing vocals for the last thirty seconds? And the album could end with “This is Home,” one of those three weak tracks, but the trio has to follow the Deluxe-Edition trend and slam on four more Angels and Airwaves-esque tracks that add very little to Neighborhoods. You do have to hand it to Travis Barker, who really powers the record with some amazing beats and fills.  His drum tracks are certainly a highlight.

Though it is nice to hear new Blink, Neighborhoods, which dropped eight (yes, eight!) years after the eponymous release, just does not compare to the band’s former masterpieces.  Will Blink ever be the same?  Probably not.  Will Blink be missed?  Yes!