Hannah Montana Album Review: Hannah Montana (2006)

In honor of April Fools’ Day, Robert and I felt like treating ourselves to what is perhaps one of the greatest albums of our time: Hannah Montana (self-titled). 

In green is my opinion. I think Hannah Montana is an artist who should be regarded among figures such as Neil Armstrong and George Washington in terms of sheer impact on the world. It would be an honor to offer my opinions on Hannah Montana’s first album.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. As he sees it, Hannah Montana used to be a positive Disney star who many young girls fell in love with, but he ultimately feels that she messed up her life.

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

hannah-montana-albumThe Best of Both Worlds

Wow! If there is any song that gets my heart pumping, it’s this one! The Best of Both Worlds combines a complex dance beat with Hannah Montana’s dynamic vocals to create an epic anthem detailing the high-octane, drug-infused, adventure-riddled life of a rockstar. What a song! I work out to this s***.

Oh yeah, you gotta love catchy theme songs! In this song you really do get the best of both worlds: great lyrics and a catchy beat! What more could you want from the opening track of an album?

Who Said

The opening guitar riff of Who Said is clearly an homage to Pearl Jam, as it oozes hardcore grunge. The attitude with which Hannah Montana sings about her invincibility is inspiring. Through this artful song, she singlehandedly convinces me that I can jump off of a bridge into concrete and come out unscathed.

Who Said is a great song if you are the type of person who does not give a crap about what people think of you. It is a great song to motivate Hannah’s listeners by making them feel like they can do anything!

Just Like You

Just Like You progresses in an epic manner, erupting from an elaborate guitar riff into poetic verses that deal with the inevitability of mortality. Just Like You may be the new Stairway to Heaven. Robert Plant’s vocal range is undoubtedly impressive, but Hannah Montana’s tone is simply angelic. This is truly a transcendentalist piece of art.

Hannah Montana, you lie. You are nothing like me. You do not have to work 50 hours a week at your dad’s donut shop or worry about getting a college education. You had it so easy because you became a Disney star. Unlike you I actually have to earn my money by doing hard labor! Yeah, that’s great you got everything you dreamed of, but you do not need to sing about it to make me feel like trash.

Pumpin’ Up the Party

Who’s got the funk? HANNAH MONTANA’S GOT THE FUNK! Where was this song in the 70s? John Travolta could have oonced to this song in Saturday Night Fever! Leave it to Hannah Montana to craft such a delightful throwback to a time of golden music. Bravo!

This song just makes you want to get up and dance! Gosh, I remember blasting this song in the house and just dancing until I could not dance anymore! You must blast this song at the highest volume whenever you listen to it for maximum awesomeness!

If We Were a Movie

Because I share a spirit animal with Hannah Montana (a hippopotamus, for those who are wondering), I feel the sadness that she conveys through this song. If We Were a Movie is an emotional trip for me. My cheeks are wet with salty tears. What a moving piece. Celine Dion should do a duet with Hannah so the song can evoke peak emotion.

Comparing relationships to movies? Yeah, I guess that works in a strange way. Basically this is just your average relationship song with a cute charm to it.

I Got Nerve

This song convinces me that Hannah Montana could beat me up with her hands tied behind her back. With a swift kick to the rib cage, she could incapacitate me. Or she could rip out my jugular Rick Grimes-style with her screwed up, shark-like chompers. Hey, to quote Hannah, “nobody’s perfect,” so don’t judge me for judging her.

As a kid, I always thought this song was catchy and fun. Now that I am older and can understand lyrics, this song really gets deep into my soul. As for the song title, yes, Hannah really has a lot of nerve in the present day.

The Other Side of Me

This song is an unpredictable feat. The Other Side of Me flows from the verses to the chorus to the bridge so abruptly I get whiplash at every choppy transition. I appreciate the bold flavor the song possesses. Thank you, Hannah, for breaking barriers. Too many artists nowadays are putting effort into making songs that flow well. You showed them that their efforts are pointless!

The other side of you? I am pretty sure the world has had enough of your other side and wish it would go away. Do us a favor and bury your other side. Bring back the good side that many fell in love with.

This Is the Life

This is garbage. What was Hannah thinking? She should have stuck to her Southern (albeit likely racist) roots. Weakest track on the album by far. This Is the Life should have been omitted from the record.

Oh yes, I remember jamming to this song as a young kid when the show first came out! This song is perfect for almost any occasion, as it is very uplifting.

Pop Princess (The Click Five)

WHO THE HELL IS THE CLICK FIVE? I purchased the deluxe vinyl version of this album so I could listen to HANNAH MONTANA! Instead, I’m listening to a My Chemical Romance cover band! Come back, Hannah!

Wait, this is not Hannah Montana singing! Oh well. Pop Princess is still very catchy and sounds like a pop hit you would hear on the radio. Honestly, this is one song I would not be ashamed of having on my iPod. It reminds me of the 2000s pop/alternative craze that was very popular and still kinda is.

She’s No You (Jesse McCartney)

I think it’s really cool how Hannah Montana got Paul McCartney to guest on her soundtrack. He still sounds great considering his old age.

Oh look, it’s a Justin Bieber-like singer, except he actually doesn’t sound too bad! Jesse is your typical young guy artist that girls of all ages always adore and fall in love with. Once again, we get another catchy pop song that ultimately became a fad. It has that early 2000s feel to it.

Find Yourself in You (Everlife)

This Everlife group is trying way too hard to emulate Hannah Montana. Sure, Phillip Phillips got famous for literally impersonating Dave Matthews, but copying a successful artist rarely helps a new artist to rise to stardom. Everlife is just jealous of Hannah. They should erase themselves from this album out of respect.

The guitar intro got me hooked on the song right away. I like these vocals a lot more than Montana’s. Find Yourself In You has a nice alternative vibe to it, which allows it to appeal to a wider audience. This is another song I would not be ashamed of having on my iPod. I would actually blast this song in my car.

Shining Star (B5)

Oh, I’m sorry, did I misread the title of the album? No. No, I didn’t. It still says Hannah Montana on it. Why, then, is Jay-Z rapping on this track? Gosh.

Jesus, what is this, a cheap rip off of 70’s disco music that our parents grew up with? Oh man, this is utter garbage. What a disgrace to retro disco/dance music. I would rather listen to rap than this abomination, and I really do not like rap. Stop trying to sound like Earth, Wind & Fire and never touch the 70’s vibe.

I Learned From You (Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus)

Who the hell is this Miley Cyrus chick? She sounds like ass. The fact that she brings her brother on the track to sing with her is even worse, because he sounds just as bad. Miley needs a vocal coach or something.

We end the album with a nice father/daughter duet. This is actually a great father/daughter song, showing us that no matter how bad times can get, you will always love and appreciate everything your dad has done for you. Dads will always be there for their daughters no matter what happens. For all the daughters out there, enjoy every day with your father because when they become grandpas, you may regret not having those special moments anymore.

My Top 3

The Best of Both Worlds

Just Like You

If We Were a Movie

Robby’s Top 3

Find Yourself In You

Pop Princess

The Best of Both Worlds

Hannah Montana the album is a definite Filet. It is a legendary record that deserves to be certified triple platinum. Hannah Montana is truly a genius in our time.

 

Happy April Fools’ Day, y’all!

~Juck

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Alex Turner Album Review: Submarine (2011)

Leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Submarine by Alex Turner, the soundtrack of the film Submarine.

In green is my opinion. I am familiar with some of Alex Turner’s work, from the Last Shadow Puppets to the Arctic Monkeys. I have not seen the Submarine movie.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He too is familiar with the Last Shadow Puppets and the Arctic Monkeys. He has not seen the Submarine movie either.

Note that this soundtrack is being reviewed purely as an album. We are not reviewing the music in relation to its use in the Submarine movie. Let’s get started!

Stuck on the Puzzle (intro)

Alex, you tease. You gave us a great verse with pondering piano and curious acoustics. You led us to believe that we would be getting a full song, but nay. Stuck on the Puzzle is a nice little tidbit that teases what is arguably the best song of the album. How can you hate this brief little bite of a tune?

We start off the album with a mellow song that does not even last for a minute. It sounds so nice, but it is just too short. I love the acoustic guitar. This track reminds me of being on a tropical island.

Hiding Tonight

Holy chill. Alex might as well be sleeping. The guitar might as well be sleeping. The violin might as well be sleeping. I might as well be sleeping. The acoustic and electric guitars are gentle yet pleasantly apparent, pairing well with Turner’s relaxed voice. Hiding Tonight is a floating track that may very well add some pounds to your eyelids.

Hiding Tonight makes me want to lie down on a hot summer day, shut my eyes, and take a nice nap without getting a sunburn. Turner’s voice is so pleasant that anybody can fall in love with it and relax to it. Just like the previous song, Hiding Tonight also has an island/beach vibe.

Glass in the Park

The electric guitar is the highlight of this track. When the guitar pings, it sounds delicious. Its tone is on point. Alex Turner delivers another relaxed vocal performance, though he is more awake than he was during Hiding Tonight. Perhaps Turner recorded this song after drinking a single sip of coffee.

This song is so dope that I almost fell asleep while listening to it. Songs don’t usually do that to me. Once again, it is the mix of Turner’s voice along with the soothing guitars that makes everything chill. Just forget about life for a bit and listen to this four minute beauty.

It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind

Entirely acoustic, It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind is a quiet song with a nice melody and some solid lyrics. I am fond of the “pepper in the pill” concept mentioned within the song. The acoustics in this track are lovely as well. It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind is a stripped-back track that manages to stand on two legs despite its simplicity.

It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind is a song I would love to learn how to play on the guitar. I feel like it is one of those songs that you can play and sing when you are with a group of people. It is calm and soothing. This song would be perfect for a coffee shop scene or a bonfire.

Stuck on the Puzzle

Hell yes. Stuck on the Puzzle is like bombazz mac and cheese. It just clicks. It works. It is goodness. In this song, the bass and the drums mesh together effortlessly, the wonky guitar is incredible, and Turner sings with confidence. Stuck on the Puzzle is an anthemic song that is rockin’ like bombazz mac and cheese is rockin’. That is, it’s rockin’ a lot.

Fun fact: I suck at puzzles in real life and in video games. Stuck on the Puzzle showcases the beautiful lyrics that Alex Turner often comes up with. I feel like this could be a love song, thought I cannot completely put together its meaning (No pun intended). Either way, this song is pretty, and sounds like it could be an Arctic Monkeys tune.

Piledriver Waltz

Piledriver Waltz is a ball (no pun intended). The lyrics are captivating, the vocal melody is entrancing, the piano is strong, and the music is successfully moody. The way that the track slows down as it reaches its chorus is remarkably compelling. Piledriver Waltz has soul and many shades of melancholy. I enjoy the heck out of this song.

Wooooo we’re going on Dancing With the Stars!!! Oh wait, we’re not? Good. I would be the first one gone anyway. We end the Submarine EP with another beautifully written song. The lyrics are wonderful and I love the piano! Piledriver Waltz is another track that I can relax to. I think this song would sound majestic acoustically. Thank you all for reading another review. I hope you are still awake, because this EP does make you sleepy.

My Top 3

Glass in the Park

Stuck on the Puzzle

Piledriver Waltz

Robby’s Top 3

Glass in the Park

It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind

Piledriver Waltz

The Submarine EP is a soothing listen. It isn’t overbearing and it isn’t boring. Instead, this six-track midget of an album makes quite the impression. Alex Turner did a swell job with this T-Bone. If there were more tracks that were as impressive as those included here, this record could have very well been a Filet. Take a listen to this tiny album and judge for yourself. The worst that could happen is wasting 19 minutes of your life.

~Juck

The Cinematic Orchestra Album Review: Motion (1999)

Leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance!

*requested review*

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Motion, The Cinematic Orchestra’s first album. 

In green is my opinion. I have never heard of these guys, but I am excited to give them a listen, as they are predominantly instrumental. I dig instrumental music.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He is unfamiliar with The Cinematic Orchestra, but is always willing to listen to something new.

Durian

Durian is comprised of two different parts. The first part lasts almost five minutes, offering some ambient lounge music laced with subtle horns, elegant violin, and vocal accents. It’s a cool sound fit for sleuthing around in a corporate office. Then, funky guitar erupts out of nowhere along with saucy organ. A younger cousin of mine stumbled into my room as I was playing the song on my speakers and remarked that it “sounds like Despicable Me.” Despicable Me is pretty great. Likewise, Durian is a pretty great chill-out track.

We start off the review with a track that is largely inclusive of drum and bass. Durian definitely establishes a chill mood, emulating music that is heard at coffee shops. I like how the song shifts gears at the end with more sounds added, lead by guitar. As a side note, the piano reminds me of classic rock group, The Doors. Durian (not the fruit) is groovy, a nice song to kick off the album.

Ode To The Big Sea

Upright bass and jazz-styled drums work together to create a repetitive rhythm that is embellished by sterile horns and uninspired piano. The violin and saxophone sounds that are laced within the song are commendable additions to the rhythm, pleasant overall, but the entire song is too bland for me to enjoy for its entire duration. Ode To The Big Sea fell flat.

Ode To The Big Sea is a jazzy song with a repetitive bass-line, so no, Meghan Trainor, it is not all about that bass. I’m disappointed with this song because I thought that it would have an island sound or theme to it, as suggested by its title. I admire the jazz sound that it has, but the song simply drags on for too long.

Night Of The Iguana

Night Of The Iguana establishes an eerie vibe fit for a jungle night. Flourishes of bass and the manifestation of mysterious noises throughout the song serve as effective touches to the living atmosphere established by the energized drumming. It is when the horns intrude upon the ambiance that the song yields a shrug. I don’t feel that the saxophones were warranted. After about two minutes of saxophone playing, sinister violins creep into the song, returning the listener back to the track’s original sound. Intrigue is rekindled and all is well…until the saxophones return! I truly dig sax. LeRoi Moore and Dick Perry captivate me when they play. The saxophone in this song, however, doesn’t impress me. What could have been a unique track ideal for easy-listening was instead an attempt to make an epic composition. I feel that Night of the Iguana would sound stellar live, but in this particular studio recording, it wasn’t captured in an adequate light. 

Night of the Iguana is a long, classical-sounding jazz song that is worth the ride. It is one of those songs that is ambient yet full of substance, like a Pink Floyd track. Once again, I get a Doors vibe from the group, and I am okay with that.

Channel 1 Suite

Heck yeah. Throw Channel 1 Suite into a Bond film! This track is slick, optimal for illustrations of espionage on screen. The introspective guitar and strong bass are complemented by rapid horn accents that sound as if they were pulled straight out of a Bond movie. The saxophone included within the track bears notable similarity to that which is featured in Sting’s Perfect Love…Gone Wrong from his album Brand New Day, which was interestingly released four days before this album was. The subtle vocals give the track a quality akin to that of a Buddha Bar compilation, making Channel 1 Suite a versatile track that could fit within many mediums. I greatly enjoyed this track.

No, I do not want to hug ya and squeeze ya. There must have been some crazy events happening in the Channel 1 Suite. The song sounded great in the beginning, but it did not progress well. A few minutes into the track, I had already grown tired of it. I understand that it is an instrumental track, but it should still fluctuate once in a while and incorporate some other sounds.

Bluebirds

Bluebirds is a piece of music that is more suitable for the live setting than the studio recording. It sounds as if it is an all-out improvisation, a flurry of crashing drums and sporadic instruments. Jamming is something that I appreciate whenever it is done by an artist, whether it be through the brief, polished delivery of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or the lengthier, experimental jams from Phish. When a jam is captured in a studio, however, it rarely lives up to its counterpart that is performed live. Artists like John Mayer and Dave Matthews Band, who often integrate jam-sections into their studio tracks, try to do so in a way that is brief and cohesive. Bluebirds knows neither brevity nor cohesion. It’s a cool bit of music, but nothing that warrants repeat listens.

Bluebirds is a loud, drum-pounding song with an intro that will make you want to start hitting some pots and pans to make some noise as if you were a Rugrat. It does get spooky-sounding a little after three minutes into the song, but the brass neutralizes the sinister sound. Bluebirds is one crazy song, and that is why I love it.

And Relax!

And Relax! is incredibly similar to Ode To The Big Sea. As stated earlier, Ode To The Big Sea was monotonous. Thankfully, And Relax! places dynamic elements over the rhythmic drum and bass combination. Lovely piano marks the ending of the song, piano that I would have preferred to have been more dominant throughout the song. Despite its energy, And Relax! stays true to its title, making it a solid addition to an album that is largely ambient.

The title of this track is perfect! Honestly, And Relax! could be my lullaby. It is chill, calm, and slow- paced. I could imagine dreaming to this song and entering my fantasy paradise without worrying about any problems from the real world. And Relax! is a magical song that will have you feeling relaxed. Likewise, it is also an appropriate song to play on a rainy day, as it does fit that blue mood spurred by stormy weather.

Diabolus

Diabolus features saxophone that finally hits the mark. This time around, the instrument is successful at meshing with the music surrounding it. Diabolus is a chill lounge jam for the first five minutes before it morphs into what sounds like the earlier parts of Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Ending with the lounge tone established by Durian, The Cinematic Orchestra says goodbye. A decent closer that teases a more electronic side to the group, Diabolus leaves more to be desired from the Cinematic Orchestra, partially because the group has flaunted its potential and partially because Motion was not quite a complete meal.

Diabolus brings back the coffee shop vibe from Durian. Diabolus takes a twist around the 5 minute mark, as more piano and a dream-like sound is added to the song. I must say, Motion is an interesting album despite being one that is different from what I typically listen to. I just wish that it was not boring and repetitive at times. If you need an album to chill to, then this one is for you. Thank you all for another amazing year of album reviews. Happy New Year everyone!

My Top 3

Durian

Channel 1 Suite

And Relax!

Rob’s Top 3

And Relax!

Night of the Iguana

Durian

Motion was an interesting album. It was conceptually organized, full of reoccurring sounds and bold ideas, but it isn’t quite ripe for high praise. The Cinematic Orchestra is undoubtedly promising, as their sound lives up to their name. In other words, the music is cinematic. Because the music retains a unique dynamism, I presume that this group’s later albums are tighter and more focused. There is surely meat to be preserved from this Porkchop. 

~Juck

Skillet Album Review: Rise (2013)

Feel free to leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Rise, the ninth solo album from the Christian rock band Skillet.

In green is my opinion. I am generally familiar with Skillet’s later work, though I haven’t followed their entire discography.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He has been a big fan of Skillet ever since he heard Awake and Alive on the radio. He is very familiar with their discography and sound.

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

 

Rise

Rise is a proper re-introduction to Skillet. The song contains many elements that Skillet fans will appreciate upon first listen, notably the familiar orchestral strings and unmistakable male-female harmonization. The classic Skillet staples are spiced up, however, by the inclusion of a children’s choir as well as a rattling explosion of frantic voices at the end of the song. These additions may very well be nods to Pink Floyd. Either way, it is the chorus where the meat of this track can be found. Hard-hitting, it is built to pump up the listener. Rise is a fantastic start to this album, promising power all around. Throw this song on a Hunger Games soundtrack for God’s sakes. 

If you have ever needed a battle/war song, look no further. Rise starts off the album with a heavy, powerful song. Skillet declares that it is time to revolt because of how terrible life is. I love how we get to hear more of Jen’s vocals along with her pounding drum skills. Rise gives off a strong message, as is usually the case with Skillet. Rise is a perfect display of how every rock album should begin.

Sick of It

Is it Skillet or is it Linkin Park? Sick of It is founded upon a heavy beat that is entirely driven by electric guitar and pounding drums. Some electronic accents are added in with the relentless guitar in a style comparable to that of Linkin Park. Even the lyrics are reminiscent of those from LP. Sick of It is a fast-moving explosion of a song, undoubtedly a fun listen.

Sick of It reminds me of Skillet’s Monster with its heavy guitar and electronic noises, which is why I did not like it from the very start. Additionally, I do not like how repetitive the lyrics are. Nonetheless, I can see this song being played at a party or at clubs because of its high energy. Out of curiosity, I would love to hear a remixed version of this track. While I am not a big fan of Sick of It, I can understand why many fans love it.

Good to Be Alive

Good to Be Alive is a lovely song. The inclusion of piano softens the entire track, giving it the hopeful feeling that Christian music is known for. The lead guitar emulates David Bowie’s Under Pressure, while the chorus has a ring of the Who’s Baba O’Reilly. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Skillet is a Christian rock band, as their music is very aggressive. Good to Be Alive reminds us that Skillet has an easier side. The band harkens back to their aggressive roots, however, at the track’s end, where an ominous verse is sung by a young girl, foreshadowing darker things to come. Good to Be Alive is a greatly enjoyable track.

There is one word to describe Good to Be Alive: chipper. This song is very positive, as it reminds us to have a great time with our lives. In other words, Good to Be Alive is the exact opposite of Rise. I love the piano in this song. Still, I can’t help but feel that the track is a little too happy. It is odd to hear a song like this after listening to two tracks that didn’t hold anything back. I will admit that Good to Be Alive is repetitive, but the song gets away with repetition because of the high-quality lyrics. When I first heard the dark outro at the end of this song, it caught me by surprise. I was a bit startled because of the negativity of the lyrics. Good to Be Alive is a great way to build up to the next epic track, however.

Not Gonna Die

Not Gonna Die clearly pulls influence from Skillet’s very own Awake and Alive. Frantic strings accent determined lyrics, throwing the listener back to the classic Skillet sound. The guitar solo within the song, while brief, is a real treat. Skillet has a talent for rocking together, but I feel that the band members could discover some new heights if they branched out once in a while and gave one another time to shine individually. This song isn’t quite a step forward in Skillet’s sound, but it is one that listeners are sure to enjoy.

Not Gonna Die starts off with a classic Skillet violin intro which is then followed by a nice riff. We are once again treated with Jen and John’s vocals. This song reminds me of Awake and Alive because of the sick violin-playing and simple-yet-heavy guitar riffs. Not Gonna Die has the heavy sound I love, a speedy guitar solo, crazy violin, and powerful lyrics. I can see this song being used for a crazy battle scene in a movie, an anime movie in particular! Not Gonna Die is a prime example of what Skillet can do, and it is one of my favorite tracks from them.

Circus for a Psycho

Circus for a Psycho’s rapid-firing riff, clearly inspired by AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, begins the song at 100 miles an hour. The entire track is quick-firing madness. The frenzied lyrics, the speedy instrumentation, and the wild guitar solo keep the song moving at a ridiculously fast pace. When the song ends with peaking cacophony and a sigh of relief once silence is finally achieved, you can’t help but sigh along. Circus for a Psycho is off the wall, incredibly high in energy, and a damn good time. If the next song isn’t slower, I may have a heart attack.

You are about to be Thunderstruck…sort of. If this song sounds like the classic AC/DC song to your ears, that is because it is supposed to. Skillet has confirmed this Thunderstruck influence in an interview. As a fan of hard rock/metal, this song is in my comfort zone because of the guitars along with John’s screaming. Circus for a Psycho is very fast paced, essentially a wild roller coaster ride. The guitar solo punches you in the face. I really love this song for all of the energy it has. I am getting a Pink Floyd vibe with all the madness that happens at the end of almost every song from Rise. I am always intrigued when songs have interesting endings and segues into one another.

American Noise

Through this song, Skillet expresses their disappointment in society as well as their hope of overcoming the “American Noise” that is so contrary to life according to Christian ideology. This song is intended to be inspirational, a pick-me-up for struggling believers and those who are tired of the trappings of American society. Therefore, I feel that it is more fitting in church than it is on an iPod, unless Christian music is one’s primary genre. The same cannot be said about many of Skillet’s other songs, which can double as both church songs and songs for day-to-day listening. American Noise is a preachy song that screams “single.” It could serve its purpose in church, but it surely isn’t the best musical piece offered on Rise.

American Noise is a perfect song for a shy guy like me. Through the lyrics, I can tell that the song is about having enough confidence to put yourself out in the world and being able say what is on your mind. Never second-guess yourself. Always be vocal. American Noise is another positive track, much like Good to Be Alive, though people will be able to relate to American Noise more. Believe me: being quiet, isolating yourself, and not caring about anything is a terrible way to live. I have a friend who is like that, and my buddies and I always try our hardest to change him.

Madness in Me

This song is heavy, carried by a mean-sounding guitar riff. If that riff was a person, it would be a very strong, hairy person; the kind of person who I wouldn’t want to get in a fight with. Madness in Me contains lyrics that are typical of Skillet: There is a war inside of me but I am stronger than that war. And so, while the guitar goes hard in the paint, there isn’t anything new here. Madness in Me is a song that won’t be remembered among all of the dynamic titans on Rise.

The riff of Madness in Me sounds a lot like the hit Three Days Grace song Animal I Have Become. Other than the riff, I am not a big fan of this song. I feel that the lyrics are just typical Skillet lyrics. There is nothing special about Madness in Me, making it another generic heavy rock song. It is a shame, because this song could have been so much more than it is. Still, it is nice to hear Jen’s voice at the end of this song, along with piano.

Salvation

I really dig the fact that Salvation is dominated by the chick. She does a fantastic job offering her voice to role of lead singer. Having a female lead freshens the song immensely. The fact that the male-female duo isn’t trading vocal blows with each other as they typically do is a huge relief, because that’s what they always do. Keeping the record new and interesting, Salvation is an outstanding song.

Salvation is where Jen Ledger finally shines! Salvation is classic Skillet. Songs like this one are why people love this band. This song is obviously about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we all know, Skillet is a Christian rock band, but what I love is that they have a heavy sound. Salvation is a beautiful song, and it will always be ingrained in the hearts of Skillet fans.

Fire and Fury

The inclusion of blazing piano makes Fire and Fury an ideal worship song. Unlike American Noise, which is too churchy to be commercial, Fire and Fury is an awesome, easily accessible religious song. The singing duo shines together on this track. While they usually seem to be finishing one another’s sentences, they actually seem to be singing this song together, as if it was a duet being performed on stage. Hats off, this is a well-done song.

Fire And Fury is yet another religious song off of Rise. It is cool how the first half of the album was mostly about real world problems, whereas the latter half of the album feels like classic Skillet. The duet in this song is genius. I could not imagine the song without it. Always remember that no matter how rough life may get, God will always be there to carry you!

My Religion

Skillet just got grungy on us. Really grungy. My Religion is all edge and attitude. The saucy riff rocks and rolls, amplified by buzzing electronic accents. Even the lyrics are edgy. Skillet seems to be saying that God is enough; going to church isn’t necessary to secure a spot in Heaven. They interpolate a little bit from Amazing Grace within the song, unapologetically molding it for their own purpose. My Religion is a fun ride with bold meaning. Skillet doesn’t get much better than this.

Well…this is different. I like this song’s fast-pace, as it reminds me of classic rock. Once again, we get some meaningful lyrics. This song is about the fact that we do not need a church or religious place to pray. No matter where we are, we can always show our love to Jesus. I enjoyed this catchy, oddball song.

Hard to Find

It’s interesting to hear the Christian side of Skillet. I know that Skillet has always been labeled a Christian rock band, but a majority of their music wouldn’t sound fitting in church unless it was stripped down to being acoustic. Hard to Find is a genuine Christian song, completely appropriate for church as is. It is less ambitious than most songs from Rise, but it has its place regardless.

Hard To Find starts off with a familiar piano intro. Once again, John is singing uplifting lyrics about religion. You may feel that Skillet’s lyricism is growing old by now, but I have come to terms with the fact that Christian rock is repetitive. If you think about it, faith is not all that hard to find. Everywhere you go, you will always find something God created. Hard To Find is a nice song, but in the end, it is what you would expect from Skillet.

What I Believe

What I Believe is essentially a less interesting Not Gonna Die. That’s really all I can say about it. Much of Skillet’s work is formulaic, following the same pattern in each and every song. What I enjoy about Rise as a whole is that, for the most part, every song sounds remarkably different. Aside from a handful of songs, one of those being What I Believe, each song is individually interesting in its own right. I feel that Skillet should have omitted this track from the album. It isn’t a bad track. It’s simply uninteresting.

Skillet concludes the album with another faith-centric song. This song actually sounds like it can be from another Skillet album, Comatose, which happens to be my favorite record from the band. I like how Rise starts off with a heavy song about revolution and ends with another religious tune. Overall, Rise is definitely one of Skillet’s best. It displays their classic side, as well as a heavy side that has not been heard since their Collide album. Thank you all for reading this review of an album from one of my favorite bands. I hope you all enjoyed it! Fun fact: I graduated high school the same day that this album was released. I guess Skillet will always have a place in my heart.

My Top 3

Rise

Salvation

My Religion

Robby’s Top 3

Not Gonna Die

American Noise

Salvation

Skillet is a group that usually plays very close to their chest. The band isn’t known for diversity or for boldness. Rise, however, is diverse enough to mark a change in Skillet. This strong Porkchop is a must-own for Skillet fans and a proper album to start with for those who want to get acquainted. It is dynamic and high in energy, a fresh addition to the band’s discography. Check out Rise.

~Juck

Santana Album Review: Supernatural (1999)

Feel free to leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Supernatural, the seventeenth studio album from Carlos Santana.

In green is my opinion. I am quite familiar with Carlos Santana’s work, and I am excited to tackle this grand album.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. Thanks to Guitar Hero III, which featured the hit song Black Magic Woman, he was exposed to Santana. He says that the “rightfully overplayed” Smooth was another big help in exposing him. 

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

(Da Le) Yaleo

This song can be summed up in a few words: ‘Carlos Santana enters a room…’ Yaleo is a welcoming, festive-sounding song that doesn’t hold anything back. Santana shreds his guitar all while horns, piano, and drums are going wild. As is often the case with Santana’s music, Yaleo is ripe for dancing. I can’t dance, but I am perfectly content grooving to this song while sedentary. This track manages to be high in energy without being overbearing, a quality that isn’t easy to attain. Yaleo is an outstanding opening track.

We start off Supernatural with the groovy (Da Le) Yaleo. Sorry, no hably espanol, so I cannot understand anything being said in this song. Regardless, it is easy to tell that it has a fun vibe. Through this song, Santana shows why he is one of the best guitarists to ever pick up the instrument. If this track doesn’t make you want to get up and dance, then you clearly have issues.

Love of My Life (featuring Dave Matthews and Carter Beauford)

This song is magic. There is a very small list of things that I call magic. This list includes Orville Redenbacher’s Pop Up Popcorn Bowl and Nickelback. Of course, I am wholeheartedly joking. Those are two of the least impressive things on this planet. Regardless, Love of My Life is a standout track that deserves praise. Dave Matthews lends his gruff voice to some romantic lyrics. He is supported by his main man, Carter Beauford, who lays down some hot drum grooves that fit right into a Santana song. Santana pours his heart out through the guitar, accenting the sensual lyrics before coming to an explosion at the end of the track. Love of My Life is a savory treat.

Dave, Carter, and Santana all in one song? Did God really give us this gift? This is another one of those “chill out” tracks. From Dave’s vocals to Carter’s drumming to Santana’s guitar, this song is a pleasure to listen to. Love of My Life is a great love song that I wish DMB would play on tour with Santana.

Put Your Lights On (featuring Everlast)

Everlast’s smoky voice complements Santana’s powerful guitar-playing like asparagus complements a filet: perfectly. The lyrics to Put Your Lights On are powerful. Executed by a commanding, angry voice, they work excellently . Santana takes the song to another level, singing through his guitar with an innumerable amount of feeling. Hearing acoustic guitar among the wicked electric provides freshness to this track, giving it a grand feeling. Put Your Lights On is a track that will be remembered for decades to come, and for good reason. This deep song is musically in sync.

Wow! Who would have thought we would get a deep song from Santana that featured acoustic guitar? I love this song’s lyrics, as they tie in well with Santana’s timeless playing. Everlast (not the company that makes boxing equipment) does a great job with the vocals on this track. This song is just so true with everything!

Africa Bamba

I would dance to this song if I had the physical capacity to do so. This song is rich in Latin flavor, and while it may not be as explosive as (Da Le) Yaleo, it’s still high in energy. The gliding piano adds a lot of substance to the song, working alongside Santana’s stunning guitar-work. The horns that are sprinkled into Africa Bamba are a pleasant topping to an already golden baked potato. Africa Bamba is essentially Yaleo’s older brother: slightly more reserved, a little more mature, but still a great time.

Wow! That intro is just stellar! Africa Bamba is another smooth song I can dance to from start to finish. (Wait…I am terrible at dancing). This song makes me want to pick up my guitar and play my heart out. Africa Bamba is a song that flows really well and can be enjoyed by anyone.

Smooth (featuring Rob Thomas)

This song is the kind of smooth that is illustrated when one throws a cigar into a pool of gasoline whilst walking away from it, or when a man strides into a Victoria’s Secret to pick up a piece of scandalous clothing for his significant other. In other words, this song is smooth. The drums and piano lock in tightly with Santana’s guitar, creating a stellar musical accompaniment to Rob Thomas’s attitude-twinged vocals. He rocks this song, giving it soul that is alluring. Smooth is a badass track.

Here it is: the song we all know and love! Smooth is such a timeless classic. Rob Thomas’s vocals with Santana help this song to shine bright! I always love singing along to this song, as it always puts me into a great mood. Honestly, there is nothing more I can say about this classic tune that hasn’t been said already. Just listen to Smooth and be blown away!

Do You Like the Way (featuring Lauryn Hill and Cee-Lo)

Do You Like the Way can best be described as being an R&B song featuring Carlos Santana. This track is made individual by the sleek horns, which give off a vibe reminiscent to that of Sting’s Tomorrow We’ll See. While this song is listenable, it doesn’t pack a punch like the other songs on Supernatural do. Instead, there is a lot of empty space where neither Santana nor his guests provide much substance. Do You Like the Way doesn’t leave much of an impact on the listener, though it surely is a functioning song.

Hold the phone…is that Cee-Lo I hear? Wait, why is there crap in a Santana song? Do You Like The Way is simply an overfilled collaboration song that is ruined by the rapping. Rap aside, this song is creative, and I always admire the creativity of artists. The question is, do you like the way your soul feels after hearing this song?

Maria Maria (featuring Product G&B)

An interesting fusion between R&B and Santana, Maria Maria is surprisingly successful. The Product G&B provide tender vocals that work in unison with Santana’s rocking electric guitar. Even while the virtuoso assumes the warmer acoustic guitar, Maria Maria remains groovy. This is much to the credit of the bass, which is turned up for the sake of emanating an R&B track. Overall, this track is a chill ride. It is likely a spectacle in the live show, with Santana’s guitar flares dominating the stage.

I always love some nice bass. Maria Maria is a beautiful title to a beautiful song. I love the beat and I love the lyrics. This song is ideal for driving through town on a hot summer day, feeling happy with the love of your life sitting next to you, not giving a crap about the world around you. It does not get any better than this!

Migra

My entire childhood flashed before my eyes during the first ten seconds of Migra. Move Along from the All-American Rejects is a staple song of my childhood soundtrack. Unexpected nostalgia aside, Migra is a party. The drummer is holding a steady, reserved rhythm that amplifies the power of Santana’s wailing guitar. This song has a festive, cultural feeling to it, very Spanish in its sound. If I were to try my hand at bullfighting, I would select Migra to be my battle song. Sure, I would be impaled by the bull, but this song would make the experience better.

Wait, is that Move Along by The All-American Rejects I hear? Nope, it’s more Santana! Migra is the type of song that can pump you up! I love the Spanish vibe given off by the brass instruments. Once again, we are blessed with an amazing Santana solo. Migra is a song that gets you moving.

Corazon Espinado

If Dora the Explorer and her friend Boots were to get married, this would be their wedding song. It’s got everything a grooving Latin American song needs. Rocking piano, tight drumming, sick guitar, and, of course, cowbell. Corazon Espinado is a great song that’s easy to like. It’s essentially a red Solo cup. Nobody can hate a red Solo cup.

I’m not sure if this makes sense, but the beginning of this track makes me feel like I am on an elevator ride…a good elevator ride. This song’s theme reminds me of Clapton’s overplayed hit Layla, though I like Corazon Espinado a lot more. In addition, it resembles Black Magic Woman, which isn’t a bad thing. Oh, love, you bring people together and crush people. I still have yet to be in a relationship, but it does not bother me, and I am not rushing. I just wish my family would stop telling me to get in one.

Wishing It Was (featuring Eagle-Eye Cherry)

My father and I were listening to this album in the car very recently when a revelation was thrust before me by some higher power. It’s not Eagle-Eye Cherry singing this song, it’s…it’s…WILLEM DAFOE! Try unthinking THAT! Aside from the humor of the song that I am now unable to dismiss, this is a solid, funky song. Once again, Santana pours his heart out through that guitar. The inclusion of piano and easy horns gives the song a ton of flavor, which was well appreciated. Wishing It Was is a solid track that is a ball for me to listen to, as I can no longer take it seriously.

I’m not sure who this Eagle-Eye Cherry person is, but he’s got an awesome name. I like the Phish-like vibe this song has, though I didn’t expect anything remotely like it from a Santana song. Wishing It Was is an individual, chill song with blasts of Santana’s remarkable guitar-work.

El Farol

This song is so unbelievably chill. It’s an end-of-the-day kind of song, to be played after the party is over. A breath of fresh air, is what it is. El Farol doesn’t try to make a bold statement. Instead, it’s here to soothe, and it does just that. This track is a satisfying one.

El Farol is a perfect song for chilling on the beach with a pina colada in hand, where one could relax and be taken away by the music. El Farol proves that lyrics are not necessary for a song to be amazing. As a matter of fact, lyrics would easily ruin this song. I wish we had more songs like this one.

Primavera

Primavera is a song Santana rips apart with his guitar. Carlos jams hard on this track, holding back absolutely nothing. The second half of the song is all about him and his guitar. Period. Primavera would be an ideal show closer, as it ends on a loud, incredibly impressive note.

Pasta Primavera anyone? Anyway, I love both the chord progression and the vocals in this song. Primavera is beautiful, a track that deserves to be a classic. It is amazing how Santana can be soulful through nothing but his guitar. Primavera is a bit longer compared to the other tracks on the album, but the jamming makes the song worth your time. I hope a modern jam-band does eventually cover it.

The Calling (featuring Eric Clapton)

The Calling is essentially three tunes in one. The first piece has an ambient, impassioned sound. The guitar that dominates the first tune has a John Mayer-esque vibe to it, as it is very bluesy. Once the ambient introduction subsides, the listener is met with a largely instrumental, soothing jam piece, which retains the classic Santana feeling. The third piece, which is perhaps my favorite of the three, includes acoustic guitar. The acoustic guitar at the beginning of this section of the song retains a vibe that is reminiscent of a pirate shanty or Spanish song, which is by no means a negative thing. Given an even further cultural feel through the drumming, which is nearly identical to the percussion in Daniel Lanois’ Where the Hawkwind Kills, the final part of the Calling escalates with electric guitar and rallying vocals. The Calling is a satisfying final song, full of intriguing, diverse sounds.

Go figure! I mentioned Clapton earlier. It turns out that he did a song with Santana. The Calling is a great way to end the album because, within it, you have two of the greatest guitarists on the planet. It is nice to see both a Les Paul and a Fender Strat in the same song, considering the fact that both are rivals. Honestly, what can be better than a song jam-packed with guitar playing? I love that The Calling ends this timeless album. If you are looking for a different sound for your collection, look no further. Supernatural is the definitive Latin-rock album. Thank you for reading. See ya’ll next time!

My Top 3 

Love of My Life

Put Your Lights On

Smooth

Rob’s Top 3

Love of My Life

Maria Maria

El Farol

Supernatural is a bold album that is full of influences from across the globe. Whether Santana is playing with a flurry of Latin instruments, an R & B beat, or warm acoustics, he shines, retaining an individual voice in each song. Supernatural is an album that is diverse in its way yet cohesive in its sound. It is truly remarkable how nearly every track is fitting for both easy-listening and dancing. This Filet is a must-own. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy if you haven’t already. 

~Juck

Pearl Jam Album Review: Ten (1991)

I want YOU, the viewer, to leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Ten, the first studio album from Pearl Jam.

In green is my opinion. I am familiar with a few members of Pearl Jam, and have listened to this album before. Other than that, I am not very familiar with Pearl Jam’s discography or history.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. Being a 90’s kid, he’s heard Pearl Jam on the radio. Rob has always enjoyed their music.

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

Once

Once is a pleasant punch to the face. The mysterious introduction, guided by a gliding bass-line, is very reminiscent of the bass-line from Coldplay’s High Speed. It serves as a swelling, thought-provoking buildup to the explosion that is Ten. Eddie Vedder doesn’t hold back, singing (and yelling) with urgency. He certainly doesn’t sound bored. The Vedder growl and all that comes with it is showcased here, as well as a quick, shredding solo from Mike McCready. The solo, if it can even be called such a thing due to its brevity, is there solely to tell the listener that McCready is there. Once latches the listener on, energetic and excited in its sound.

ONCE UPON A TIME! This album begins with a song that is very intense. It does what all first tracks should do: excites the listener for the rest of the album. The guitar riff is unforgettable, and Vedder’s classic screaming is showcased well. If Once does not make you go crazy, then you seriously have issues.

Even Flow

Even Flow’s main guitar riff sounds a lot like the bass-line from Once. I enjoy Once, I enjoy High Speed, and so, surprise surprise, I enjoy Even Flow as well. The chorus of this song is light in terms of sound yet strong in terms of delivery. Vedder’s tone is full of attitude, oozing grunge. This track is easy to stomach. Think of it as a doughnut that is frothy on the inside and glazed conservatively. It’s smooth and easy to down.

Many know Even Flow thanks to Guitar Hero 3. It’s no surprise that this particular track was featured in the game, because the guitar is amazing. Even Flow is Grunge at its finest. This song always gets me pumped up! Even though I can never understand what the heck Vedder is saying, I still enjoy Even Flow.

Alive

This song bothers me. The problem I have with it doesn’t stem from the music, but from the lyricism. The verses are dragged down by Vedder’s poor lyrics. The only outstanding thing I can say about Alive is that the guitar solo is wicked. Mike McCready did a nasty job. There is no way his guitar made it alive out of that one. Alive is an underwhelming track that is made salvageable because of the outstanding solo.

I was first hooked to this song because of the guitar intro. Alive has a wonderful story to it, which I always appreciate in songs. This is my favorite Pearl Jam song, and that’s because of every single element the song has in it! The guitar solo that ends Alive can be considered one of the greatest solos of all time. I’m not going to lie. Whenever that solo starts, I blast the song and play air-guitar, even if I am in the car! Of course, I still have a hand on the steering wheel. I’m not that stupid!

Why Go

Why Go is a quick, breezy song. For the first time on this album, the drums caught my attention. The drummer isn’t doing anything crazy, but he’s playing pretty hard. Props to him for playing with energy. Once again, Mike McCready rips a solo that is remarkable. Eddie Vedder’s chorus is hard-hitting, memorable, and melodic. Why Go is a nice little song that feels whole despite its shorter duration.

Pearl Jam finally gives us a song with a drum intro and rocking bass. The guitar, as usual, is great, and this song definitely has that “classic” sound to it. Please do not think I mean classical music. I mean classic rock. You’ve got to love that screaming! Just remember: Do your best not to get diagnosed by a stupid !@#$.

Black

I have heard this song more than any other song on this album (thanks to my dad, who bought this album just for the one song) yet I cannot understand half of what Vedder is saying…but I don’t care. Black kicks ass. Vedder’s vocals are top notch. Backed by the powerful piano, he slays both the verses and the chorus . Black is one of the only songs on this album that feels like a band song. By that, I mean that the listener is conscious of everyone at once. McCready is shredding, the drummer is chugging along, and Vedder is vocalizing all over the place. Black just works. I love this song.

Finally, we get to hear a mellow song from Pearl Jam! Black is pure magic, and it really displays how great Eddie Vedder is as a vocalist. I love the piano in this song.  It is another song you can really rock out to. Black is a classic masterpiece that can be enjoyed by anyone listening to this album!

Jeremy

Jeremy is a dark song. Damn.  The story tied to the lyrics is haunting, to say the least. To appreciate the song, hearing the lyrics is essential. Prior to looking up the lyrics, I only got a fragment of an idea from Jeremy. Now that I am fully acquainted with this track lyrics-wise, I understand it. In terms of music, Jeremy has both dark and uplifting moments. It is a solid song that is strong not only in terms of the chorus, as is expected from Pearl Jam, but in terms of the verse as well. It’s a solid song. Oh, and (you knew this was coming) the similarities between Eddie Vedder’s and Dave Matthews’ vocal styles are on display here. Just wanted to point that out.

Keep those awesome bass intros coming! Anyway, Jeremy is another song off of Ten with a wonderful yet depressing story. It is deep and dark. I love songs like that! It is why many other people love this song as well. What is not to love about this song?

Oceans

Oceans is a Pearl Jam song with flavor. From the dipping and rising vocal effects slapped onto Vedder’s voice to his falsetto to the track’s progressive flavor, Oceans is different all-around. I find it intriguing to hear a different side of this band. I hear a lot of Chris Cornell in here, in both the vocals and in the music, which is awesome. I can’t help but feel, however, that Oceans could have been grander, or at least longer. Regardless, I really dig this track. That’s why I want more of it.

Damn it, why are all the songs I really like short? Oceans is one solid track! Hence the title, Oceans would be a great song to play on the beach. I do not know exactly why, but the guitar reminds me of Led Zeppelin, and that is never a bad thing!

Porch

I don’t care for Porch lyrically. The boys play too fast for any of the lyrics to soak in. It’s when McCready steps up to the plate when things get wild. He makes that guitar moan. As soon as he kicks into gear with his solo, the song takes a very dark turn that I dig…then Eddie’s back, and it’s a buzzkill. All of the darkness is expelled. Honestly, I just wanted him to shut up and give the stage back to that wizard with the guitar. Porch was wasted potential. McCready’s solo could have been used as a brooding base for a different song entirely.

Damn Eddie, you really wanted to start this song off angrily! The lyrics to Porch can be related to our world today, and that is just crazy smart. Once again, the guitar-work is stellar in this song, and the bass groove is nice as well. I love how fast and heavy Porch’s sound is.

Garden

Garden is smooth. The entrancing guitar and poetic lyrics swell to a satisfying explosion through the triumphant chorus that sounds warmly familiar. I hear faint echoes of Phil Wickham’s Must I Wait for a note or two in Vedder’s chorus. As much as I do enjoy this song, I feel that it has the potential to grow into a grand live song (if it hasn’t already. I don’t follow this band’s live shows). It seems to have spaces for sweet jams to sprout. I dig Garden.

Wow! You could just play me that guitar riff over and over again and I would enjoy it! Garden has a lot of soul in it, which isn’t usually expected from a grunge band. I love how Garden is quiet at some points and louder at others. It is amazing what Pearl Jam can do.

Deep

Deep is exactly what Porch should have been. The guitar-work is a sinful blend of mean and crazy. Hot damn. Vedder controls his yelling to deliver punctuate lines with pure anger and attitude. Deep is out of control and I love it. It is, without question, the heaviest song on Ten. This song is plain cool.

That intro really hits you hard, and I freaking love it! Deep definitely has that classic metal sound to it that was made famous by bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. I can really imagine Jimmy Page playing Deep, and I love this song because of that comparison! Deep is by far the loudest and heaviest song on the album.

Release

This song is a giant, relieved sigh. The long duration isn’t felt at all. It’s an easy listen despite its heavy nature. What I will call the “Once Reprise” at the second half of the song is a cool instrumental bit that isn’t anything crazy. Pearl Jam says goodbye properly: with confidence.

Release is a slow song, and you can easily tell that it is about fathers. I love how this cry for help serves as a closer to an album that is otherwise heavy. Release shows how amazing Eddie Vedder is as a vocalist, and how legendary Pearl Jam is!

All in all, Ten can arguably be called the greatest debut album of all time, and it is no doubt the best album of 1991. If you have never listened to a grunge band before, this is the place to start. In my opinion, there is not one bad song on this album, so do yourself a favor and pick it up! As always, thank you all for reading and stay tuned for more reviews!

My Top 3

Black

Garden

Deep

Rob’s Top 3

Alive

Oceans

Deep

Ten took a long time to grow on me, as it is heavier than what I typically listen to. In the end, it did grow on me. Pearl Jam’s debut album is one worth having in your collection. This high-quality, black-charred T-Bone is fantastic, full of energy and confidence. Hats off to Pearl Jam. Debut albums aren’t always this special.

~Juck 

Pink Floyd Album Review: The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

I want YOU, the viewer, to leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Dark Side of the Moon, the iconic eighth studio album from Pink Floyd.
In green is my opinion. I am familiar with some songs off of the Wall and have listened to this album a few times, but there is a large amount of this band’s music that I have not listened to.
In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. Thanks to his dad, he was exposed to Pink Floyd ever since he was little. It is one of his favorite bands of all time!
Let’s start our track-by-track review!

Speak to Me

The Dark Side of the Moon begins with a steady heartbeat paired with cha-chinging cash registers, alluding to Money, a song that the listener arrives to later in the album. Speak to Me, which climaxes with maniacal laughter and desperate screaming, indicates that Pink Floyd is approaching this album with a sense of humor while retaining a kind of darkness.

We begin our psychedelic journey on one of the greatest albums ever made with a bunch of noises that reoccur throughout the album. Speak to Me is a nice buildup to the song tied with it, Breathe.

Breathe

Pink Floyd launches us from Speak to Me to Breathe, which is an easy, floating track that is guided by psychedelic electric guitar. Grooving drums as well as tight bass join with the guitar to create a relaxed vibe this album retains for its entire duration. Thoughtful lyrics complement the spacey sounds. Breathe is a chill song that feels whole and full.

Breathe is musical genius. Waters’ vocals are music to my ears. I really love the lyrics as well. Gilmour’s legendary guitar-work shines through the simplistic percussion. The song in its entirety takes you away to a different world. 

On the Run

Trippy. The fact that this kind of music was conceived and recorded in the early 70’s is mind-blowing to me. Pink Floyd was way ahead of their time, experimenting with synthesized sounds to this degree. A steady, subtle rhythm is kept throughout the entirety of On the Run, borrowing that floating quality from Breathe and implementing it here. The clock-ticking at the end of this track creates a bridge to the next song of the album, Time, in such a way that doesn’t feel forced or tacked on. On the Run is a track that is ambient yet full of substance. I dig it.

On the Run starts off in a hurry. Then, sounds that emulate a sort of space station seep into the track. The ending reminds me of an airplane taking off, so this song is perfect for those who are running through an airport to get to their flight on time. Honestly, I can imagine myself getting high  (that will never happen) and having a bunch of weird hallucinations to this song. As a side note: I am in no way promoting drugs to any of you. That stuff will mess up/end your life.

Time

It has just occurred to me that Time would make an excellent morning alarm. I would not mind waking up to this great feat of a song. The first couple minutes of Time could be stand-off music for a western film, and damn good stand-off music at that, but it’s all rock once the band comes in. A wicked, passionate guitar solo adds a lot to this already stand-out track. Breathe creeps into the song at times, even before the Breathe reprise, which is by no means a negative thing. Time is a bold track with plenty to love.

Time is a timeless Pink Floyd classic! Yes, those ringing clocks at the beginning are a pain for headphone listeners, but the thought of them disappears when you are hit with western-sounding guitar, bringing more psychedelic noises. Two and a half minutes into the song, the band takes over and blows you into space! Once again, the lyrics are brilliant, as is the guitar solo! The ending, which harbors the Breathe reprise, is a smart touch provided by Pink Floyd!

The Great Gig in the Sky

The Great Gig in the Sky is a combustive, powerful, passion-fueled piece of music. The stellar piano, which drives the song, rises in intensity along with the wordless singing/screaming, provided by Clare Torry, who belts out insane vocals. There is an abundant amount of feeling embedded within this track. The Great Gig in the Sky is a song that speaks despite its lack of lyrics, and that is truly a feat in itself.

I would love to go to that great gig in the sky! Oh wait, it’s heaven? No! There is still so much I want to do in my life! Anyway, The Great Gig In The Sky starts with unforgettable piano. Then we get some yelling that rivals Freddie Mercury’s high notes. The whispers included within the song make me shudder. Honestly, this song is very haunting, and that is mostly to the credit of the piano. 

Money

The groovy bass-line that drives Money is a strong foundation on which the rest of the song shines. The lyrics to this song are humorous yet serious at the same time. Most songs about money fall short, and that’s because a majority of them have to live in this song’s shadow. Pink Floyd jams hard on this track. The saxophone solo is less impassioned than the other solos on the record, but it holds its own nonetheless. Money is notably less ambient than anything else on the Dark Side of the Moon, so it does stand out a bit more as an individual, single track, yet it glows with the extra attention it gets.

Cha ching! Ah, where to begin with money? It runs the world, controls our life, our countries, and pretty much everything else. This song covers many of the good and bad aspects of money! That riff is just unforgettable, and Waters’ vocals are great as always. It is so catchy and fun to listen to! The saxophone solo is genius, and it ties in well with the rest of the instruments. What’s the best way to follow a sax solo? A damn good guitar solo of course! These two solos are obviously the highlight of this masterpiece of a record, and my favorite aspects of the song. Money is pure classic rock and is a great display of how timeless this music is compared to the crap we have today. This song is an oddball compared to everything else on the record, but it is as great as music will get.

Us and Them

Us and Them is a song that has a very grand air about it. Whether that is due to the powerful yet mellow sax or the booming, Queen-like explosions, this song feels very big. The constant progression and deceleration gives the song brisk yet effective speed-bumps among the laid back, worry-free core melody. Us and Them is an anthem that emulates Queen while still retaining Pink Floyd’s individual sound. It’s a big feat altogether and was pulled off quite nicely.

Us and Them is another mellow song, and it is very poetic. It is hard to believe this track comes right after the heavy-hitting Money, but it still holds onto the saxophone that highlighted the previous song. The sax is more quiet this time around, and I love it! It reminds me of good old DMB! The guitar is pleasant and, as usual, the lyrics are beautiful. They have great meaning. As I often say in our reviews, I can fall asleep to this song despite how the energy does pick up at some points. It is always nice to hear the piano get some spotlight as well! Us and Them is just pure bliss.

Any Colour You Like

Any Colour You Like, while it is experimental in its predominantly electronic/synthesized sound, doesn’t do it for me. There isn’t a ton of substance here. The ambient quality that allowed the other instrumental tracks to work is not present in Any Colour You Like. I’m not a fan of this song. It’s listenable, but it sure hasn’t been given the time or the care that was put into the other tracks.

It’s not shocking that Pink Floyd starts off a song progressively. I love all of the electronic noises we hear in this song. The guitar is really cool, nearly putting me into a trance. You can have any color you like, as long as it’s black (or in my case, black and yellow! STEELERS NATION REPRESENT!)!

Brain Damage

Yes! I hear some touches of Breathe in here. I love Breathe. Every track should sound like Breathe. Every. Track. Ever. Brain Damage had me swaying back and forth. It possesses an uplifting air largely due to its upbeat chorus and the openness of the music. As much as this whole album defines itself, Brain Damage could arguably be called the anthem of the record. It is a tight track that connects the beginning of the album to the end.

Oh man, that guitar hook is amazing! The keyboard, the vocals, the laughing, and the lyrics all come together in a satisfying way. “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon” ,“There’s someone in my head but it’s not me.” Classic, just classic!

Eclipse

In this little song, I hear elements from The Great Gig in the Sky, Us and Them, Breathe, and Speak to Me. Eclipse brings this whole album around full circle (or, should I say, sphere?). Eclipse is a grandiose conclusion to this grandiose album, making yet another connection to the collective sound of the Dark Side of the Moon. Pink Floyd says goodbye on a satisfying note, wrapping up this experience of an album.

This song is such a perfect way to end this timeless album. The harmony is beautiful and the lyrics describe everything so well.

Words cannot describe how wonderful and legendary this album is. Our review doesn’t do it justice! When I first heard this album, I did not get why it was regarded as being so amazing. Once you sit down and carefully listen to the entire record, however, and notice how every song flows with one another, you really come to appreciate the work Pink Floyd has done. This album is considered the greatest of all time for a reason. Pink Floyd is just pure genius. The Dark Side of the Moon is filled with progressive and psychedelic sounds that define the group. This album is a must-have for anybody who enjoys music. It has stood the test of time. We will never get another album like this. It truly makes you appreciate music.

My Top 3

Breathe

Time

Brain Damage

Rob’s Top 3

Time

Money

Us and Them

This album will forever be a monumental musical accomplishment. Pink Floyd somehow combined an array of similar yet dissimilar sounds into a record that is essentially one big song. A wildly successful concept album that is worth your listen, the Dark Side of the Moon is a Filet that is out of this world. If you don’t have a copy already, go out and get one. This review has been a pleasure.

Thank you, Pink Floyd, for this album and as always, thank you all for reading yet another album review. If you hate this album, hate Floyd, find Pink Floyd overrated, or do not own a copy of this record, then you are a person who has Brain Damage, is Out of Time, On The Run, and going to The Great Gig in The Sky during an Eclipse. Guess all that Money couldn’t help you. Good luck Breathing up there! 

*Facepalm* Thank you for that, Robby.

~Juck

Lorde Album Review: Pure Heroine (2013)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Pure Heroine, the first album from Lorde.

In green is my opinion. I am not too familiar with Lorde. I understand that she recorded this album at a young age, and I have heard a couple of her songs. I am willing to give her a shot, as she is early in her career and doesn’t sound like a computer.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. Every time he turns on the TV or radio, he hears Lorde and it irritates him. It’s safe to say that he isn’t a fan of Lorde at face value.

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

Tennis Court

This slow-grooving opening track is a fitting introduction to Lorde’s style: Cool and collected. Her silky voice has a twinge of attitude and a pinch of condescension that gives it some character. Lorde floats through this song vocally in an almost melancholy manner. I am intrigued by this opening track for two reasons. First, the possible Chris Isaak reference. “But my head’s filling up fast with the wicked games, up in flames.” Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game begins with the lyrics “The world was on fire and no one could save me but you.” I always love me some Chris Isaak, so if this nod was intentional, props to Lorde. Second, I dig her accent. I know she’s from New Zealand, but at times it sounds like she’s straight out of Jersey. Tennis Court is a cool song.

We start off this album with a vocally chill song, Tennis Court. Tennis Court has a cool beat to it, but I find Lorde’s vocals really boring. Also, the random yeah’s that are heard throughout the song are annoying, to be blunt. All I want to do now is say “yeah” after every sentence. 

400 Lux

400 Lux is driven by a steady, air-horn accented beat. This song is about taking a drive and killing time with somebody special. The lyrics aren’t very open or complex, though they are phrased oddly, which gives them a kind of freshness. The melody of the chorus sounds very familiar, though I can’t place where I may have heard it elsewhere. Overall, 400 Lux is an average song that doesn’t have a ton of substance. Maybe it could be enjoyed more with some orange juice.

The intro to 400 Lux was a big tease. I was disappointed at the lack of a drop or explosion. Still, I dig the bass. The lyrics are really random, yet for some odd reason, they work. Any time orange juice is mentioned in a song, you know that it’s whack! I could not help myself from laughing throughout the song because of its lyrics. 400 Lux is not a bad song at all. Yeah.

Royals

Lorde trashes mainstream materialism with a song whose beat is comprised of easy snaps and subtle electronic buzzing. The chorus is, without a doubt, the highlight of the track. It’s become habitual to repeat “royals” with Lorde, and it’s always a good time. Royals does slip in its later half, however. The high-pitched singing broke the flow of the song. A failed attempt at a bridge, in my opinion. The failed bridge took away from the sardonic attitude that is present on the track. Once again, I’m digging that “Jersey” accent. Royals is a fun song, overall.

My God, this song is complete trash! The lyrics do not make sense, the beat in the back is plain, boring, and doesn’t change whatsoever. I would honestly rather listen to some crap (rap) than this garbage. There is a reason why I hate modern radio, and it is because we hear music like this. You know how I often say that songs make me fall asleep? This one does just that, except it does so for the wrong reasons. Hey, at least she did not say yeah every 5 seconds.

Ribs

I love eating ribs. Like, MEAT ribs. The SONG Ribs, on the other hand, doesn’t do anything for me whatsoever. Lorde’s attempt at a deep song about reflection and simpler days falls flat on so many levels. Her vocals, while still thick and husky, don’t hold any weight. The repetition of verses and echoing of lines was unnecessary. Ribs dragged on. I didn’t enjoy this song at all. Lorde put herself in a tough position by naming this track Ribs to begin with. It’s difficult to match the power of ribs.

Yay! A song about my favorite food! Oh wait, we aren’t talking about BBQ Ribs? Damn it! I was ready to indulge in some great meat! Once again the music bores me, but I really like the lyrics in this song as well as how deep Lorde’s vocals are. Lucky for me, when I dance at a party (that does not happen often), my ribs do not get tired. I am just that goofy guy on the dance floor.

Buzzcut Season

What the hell is this girl going on about? Every time I think that I understand what this song is about, Lorde whips out another verse that’s seemingly about something totally different. Buzzcut Season seemed to strive for a central meaning, but didn’t quite reach it. So, while the song’s beat was grooving and Lorde’s vocals were spot on, the lyrics were too jumbled for me to get into this track.

I love how deep this song is. The sounds could make me fall asleep peacefully at night. Buzzcut Season is really calm but it still retains a trippy vibe, which is why I like it.

Team

The beginning of this song was a bubbling sampling of Middle Eastern flavor with a touch of Alanis Morissette. Once the beat came in, bass loud and strong, Lorde slayed it. Team’s lyrics are solid, Lorde’s vocals are right on, and the music is smooth. Team has a Tennis Court vibe to it, and that is not a bad thing. I enjoyed Team.

Here we go again. Another terrible, overplayed song. I’m not really going to rant here about why I hate it because I would just bore myself with my own repetition. Honestly, how did we go from a trippy song to this? It ticks me off when this kind of reckless transition happens on albums. At least the lyrics make sense, unlike some other lyrics on Pure Heroine. Lorde, I am certainly not on the same team as you. As a matter of fact, our teams are rivals like the Steelers and Cowboys. Yeah.

Glory and Gore

Glory and Gore is a song that should have been picked up by The Hunger Games series in place of that horrendous rendition of Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Anywho…Glory and Gore kicks ass. Lorde has been critical throughout this whole album, but this song takes the criticism to a whole new level. She scolds society while leaving the lyrics open enough to be interpreted in various ways. Her vocals and the music pack a punch that isn’t overbearing. She gets her point across in a fluid manner. I really like Glory and Gore (the song, that is).

Glory and Gore? THIS MEANS WAR! Honestly, with a song title like that, I was expecting a fast song with intense lyrics. Instead, Glory and Gore featured relaxed vocals and an easy beat, no different from the other songs on the album. I do not like this song because I expected something different, but I could see why some people would enjoy it. It could certainly fit into certain movies and shows.

Still Sane

I’ve never taken a liking to songs written by artists about the impact of his or her fame. I understand that fame twists these artists’ lives into something that is observed and recorded and abnormal, but I frankly don’t care to listen to a song about it. That’s what interviews are for. I didn’t connect to Still Sane, neither through the apathetic vocals nor in the science fiction music.

I like the eerie music in the beginning of this song, and I honestly have to say that Still Sane is pure poetry. It is by far the best-written song on the album. Still Sane would have been perfect even if the track was solely comprised of Lorde’s vocals along with that eerie music that, for some reason, reminds me of the Legend of Zelda. I just wish the ending was smoother.

White Teeth Teens

Lorde is bold. Bold I tell you! Lorde’s vocals completely own the melody that fills all of the space over the Christmas-like beat. The lyrics to this song are stellar. White Teeth Teens may very well be the track on Pure Heroine that best showcases Lorde’s voice, both in the musical sense and the poetic sense.

I love how this time around, Lorde goes straight into the vocals. She finally sings a little higher and faster. This song would sound even better if the speed was doubled. Oh, and personal hygiene is important everyone, especially concerning your teeth. Make sure you brush 2-3 times daily because you do not want to have a bad teeth. My parents regret it.

A World Alone

As mature as Lorde is, as can be postulated by listening to her lyrics and musical style, this song reminds the listener that she’s only a young girl. Her lyrical connections to fake friends and the like lowers the scale of the song, reducing it to being exclusively about high school no matter her intentions. Musically, A World Alone is underwhelming. The track goes on too long for its own good. The lyrics, while they are celebratory, don’t pack much of a punch.  I don’t expect this girl to be scolding someone or something in every single song, but some kind of edge would be appreciated. A lackluster closing track.

Oh shoot, we actually get some guitar in a song! It’s too bad the other synthetic noises ruin it. A World Alone does have that “album closer” feel to it. The guitar may be simple and repetitive, but it truly is a breath of fresh air. It should have been used on more songs from Pure Heroine. I honestly thought this album would be complete garbage, but it was not all that bad. In most cases, you will have to give the songs a few listens to really understand the lyrics. Pure Heroine is not my cup of tea, but it is not the worst album I have ever heard. As always, thank you all for reading another review and stay tuned for more. Yeah (only Dave Matthews can say or scream “yeah” and make it work!).

My Top 3

Team

Glory and Gore

White Teeth Teens

Rob’s Top 3

Still Sane

White Teeth Teens

A World Alone

Overall, Lorde’s debut album is a small, lightly-seasoned Porkchop. Pure Heroine is ambitious in some aspects, though it could have been bolder. The writing is, across the board, neither cliched nor simple. At the same time, however, a lot of it was jumbled and vague. If Lorde flushes out most of the obscurity and tightens up her lyrics, her songs will benefit greatly. Next time around, I would hope that the beats vary more from track to track, with more dynamic elements added to them. This was a fine first effort from this rising star, but she has a lot of room to grow. Pure Heroine established Lorde’s style. Now, she needs to build and improve upon it.

I’m going to go drink some orange juice.

~Juck

Dave Matthews Band Album Review: Before These Crowded Streets (1998)

Today, we are reviewing Before These Crowded Streets, the third album from the Dave Matthews Band.

In red is the opinion of the exceptionally talented singer-songwriter of the Lazy Saturday Project. He got to know the DMB back in 2000 in the midst of actually trying to find an enlightenment from mainstream radio music. His uncle introduced him to ‘Crash’, the album that completely changed his life and his definition of music. Since then, he has been a huge fan of DMB.

In green is my opinion. I am a huge DMB fan.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He too has been listening to DMB for a long time.

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

Pantala Naga Pampa

Pantala Naga Pampa is just the type of opening song you’d like to have on an album. It’s groovy, earthy, funky, and simply tickles your ears for something more DMB.

What is Pantala Naga Pampa? The phrase is said to mean “I have a snake in my pants” in Tamil, an Indian language. This opener to the album is a forty second intro that promises a good, lighthearted time. This track is a big lie. After Rapunzel, this album is anything but carefree. Nonetheless, it’s a nice signal tune that lets you know Rapunzel is coming. It gives off the impression that the album will be light and frothy. It’s anything but, and I love the irony that comes with this track. 

Come and relax now, put your troubles down, and read this review of my favorite Dave Matthews Band album as we start off with a forty second partial song before Rapunzel. It is a cool song with a few lyrics, and I like how Dave does hit some high notes. The song has a funny name that is hard to remember, but it is cool in that it acts as an intro for the next song on the album.

Rapunzel

Rapunzel is a perfect continuation of the previous song. The similarity of vibes between Rapunzel and Pantala Naga Pampa make them both like an envelope with identical stamps. There are great dynamics throughout the song, including a tingling sound of percussion by Carter Beauford, a sick bass line from Fonzie, and wicked singing by Dave Matthews (simply something all of the fans are loving).

Rapunzel is a feat. The band restrains themselves from jamming at times to allow for Dave’s vocals and obsessive lyrics to take the stage. Boyd Tinsley kills it on the violin. I could have done with less chorus and more narrative verses, but Rapunzel is another great song in which Dave expresses his frenzied lust for women.

Rapunzel is a cool slower song that reminds me of a bar or café scene that has people playing music or presenting poems. At first I did not like how slow this song was, but it grew on me. The saxophone is what makes this song great. Some of the lyrics are funny as well. You can clearly tell it has a sexual theme to it.

The Last Stop

Lyrically, Dave Matthews has always managed to input a certain level of political views throughout his songs. This is, without a doubt, one of those songs. Thick and screaming vocals combined with the heavily eastern-influenced orchestral background, provided by Boyd Tinsley, make the Last Stop one of the heavier tunes to churn in the album. The phrase “fools are we if hate’s the gate to peace” delivers a strong value by Matthews that represents certain frustration regarding whatever conflict is happening in society. The intensifying vibes toward the end will simply leave you stranded in the jam.

My Middle Eastern blood boils in the best way possible when I hear this song. The Arabic instrumental is masterful, compelling, and relentless. Dave’s Arabic-styled vocalizing is raw and angry, which suits the music like a glove. Dave doesn’t simply sing this song, he feels it. The lyrics are, at times, mocking and challenging. Instead of feeling showy and unbelievable, there is power behind the words, and the message is delivered honestly and angrily. These guys decide to bring a banjo on board for the chorus in the midst of the middle eastern noise being projected. The music decelerates and calms down to finish, cooling you off from the heavy experience. Somehow, it works. The Last Stop is one of the best songs from this band.

You may never hear this song if you go to a concert unless it is truly the last stop, but that is if you are lucky. Anyway, this is my favorite song of the album because of how heavy it is. It has a wonderful Arabic/African sound to it, and Dave’s voice is unusual, as it is not what one would typically expect from him. Everything about this song is just great. The lyrics are really deep, even mentioning Jesus’s crucifixion. I love this song.

Don’t Drink the Water

Musically, Don’t Drink the Water is a rock song that powers up through the steady beats and Matthews’ eerie singing. The song has much more power during live show, most likely due to it being played in a faster tempo with a heavier distortion by Tim Reynolds. But the album version is atmospheric as can be.

This song has a tribal aura about it. Mysterious and strangely elegant, it’s an exchange of dialogue between two people or, perhaps, two peoples. Most accept it to be an exchange between Native and Spaniard, and others hear it as being between Palestinian and Israeli. Regardless of how you interpret the song, it’s a great one. Dave’s lyrics are sung almost euphorically despite the dark meaning of them. The loudness and aggression that erupts at the end of the song is a rewarding payoff to an equally rewarding progression that tells an engaging story. Alanis Morissette’s voice is a nice touch added to the track. Dave’s chanting is a successful ode to the natives, honest and raw in its delivery. Don’t Drink the Water is an experience, a story I can hear over and over again.

This song is a fan favorite for a reason. I love both the lyrics and the instrumental parts. Tim’s guitar-work is great and the song is so calm up until the end, where it picks up in tempo and explodes. I feel that the band plays this song at nearly every show because of how well written it is.

Stay (Wasting Time)

Stay is definitely the brightest tune of the album. This song is the perfect soundtrack for summer heat or chillaxing. The feeling of celebration is surely felt throughout the song, especially in the jamming session during the bridge and toward the end of the song. Leroi Moore really turns up the mood with his saxophone section. We are definitely not wasting time by listening to this uplifting, cheerful, groovy tune, and we sure as hell would like to stay for more.

One of the very few bright lights of the album, Stay is a joyous, happy love song. Put a bunch of black women who can sing Gospel behind Dave and this song is a celebration. The style of the instrumental parts alternate throughout the song, at times offering a sound and style of playing that isn’t common in this band’s music. It’s a nice, light song. It’s not one that I’ll remember this album for, but it’s a needed feel-good song to allow us to take a break from the anger.

This song is a fun one. The lyrics are catchy and the music is cool too. Dave’s acoustic and his lyrics are great. I like how the band put a choir in the song. In my opinion, it works. This song is great to play on a hot, sunny day when you are feeling great, as if there are no worries in your life. Overall, this song just has a lot of positive energy in it and can light up anybody’s day!

Halloween

Halloween is a song that represents anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction more than anything else. The lyrics are considered vague and have varied a lot through the years and various live shows. It is definitely a song you’d like to have in a rock show. Matthews’ screaming and passion is simply unbeatable.

When I first heard this song, I didn’t get it. I was confused. Once I looked at the lyrics and understood why they were put to paper, however, I was willing to give it another chance. This song is pure anger. The Last Stop is angry, Don’t Drink the Water is angry, but Halloween is fueled by anger. It has a spooky sound to it, starting off with a mocking tone. The second half of this song, starting with “going away,” is a painful and much needed release of anger, as anyone with ears can hear. This is a song I hope to never be able to relate to. Dave’s vocalizing at the end is unbelievable. I can hardly believe that it’s his voice pulling off the opera-like notes. I love it. Dave is pissed. 

Oh how I just love how deep and dark this song is. It is probably the band’s deepest and darkest song. This song took time to grow on me and, once again, Dave’s vocals are surprising, as they are nothing one would expect from him. I never knew Dave could scream that loud. It’s like he just let everything that was bothering him out. The music goes really well with his voice and the dark theme. Halloween is very tense. I don’t think we will ever get to hear Dave’s voice like this in a song ever again. I wish we had more songs as heavy and dark as this one.

The Stone

The Stone is one of the darkest, if not the darkest tune on the album. A solid guitar rhythm by Matthews is accompanied by a haunting orchestral piece from Tinsley, which both blend perfectly to create this atmospheric tune. Fonzie’s bass line displays a great dynamic that really locks to Beauford’s drum playing, establishing a strong foundation to the song. Moore’s saxophone playing toward the end simply adds to the beauty like a cool, breezy wind in the desert.

This song is intense. Boyd sets the scene with sinister-sounding violin, the creeping bass adds to the dark sound, Carter’s reserved drumming keeps the song progressing smoothly, and the deep brass makes the song all the more gloomy. The guitar melody is a masterpiece on its own. The song has a regal sound to it at times, appropriating it as a tribute to Dave’s murdered sister. The Stone is a great song.

At first, the Stone sounds very classical, but that unforgettable guitar riff comes to dominate the start of a beautifully deep song. I love the guitar and violin in this song, especially where they shine the most (at the beginning and end). Boyd’s violin solo at the end is a perfect example of how enchanting a violin can sound. Dave’s softer voice is just majestic. The lyrics are great. I can listen to the Stone any night while relaxing, outside or inside.

Crush

Crush is a song that honestly details the admiration of a woman in the classiest way possible. The jazz influence really makes itself known in this tune. With a great groove by Beauford and refreshing flute-playing by Moore, the song truly presents an atmosphere of love and admiration in a high sense of the individual. Additionally, the bridge of the song is simply rocking!

This song is all about the bass. Crush keeps rising and falling, and there isn’t a definitive musical climax. Crush explodes with an emotional climax, however, and remains one of DMB’s best. It seems this is a studio track that many assert is heaps better live, even more so than other studio tracks. However, I feel this particular opinion is held mainly because of the passion and the jam infused within the live performance. Regardless, I dig Crush on this record.

The mellow bass is what makes this song great. Once again I love the lyrics, and the piano playing is also a nice touch. The guitar reminds me of being on the shore at sunset. The song has a very nice romantic theme to it and is one of the most beautifully written Dave Matthews songs. Once again Boyd has an awesome solo, and Dave’s soft vocals make this song easy to listen to.

The Dreaming Tree

I would say that this is one of the more progressive tunes in the album. With a continuous 7/8 time signature, the band really plays it in a subtle way that swings easily to our ears like a non­-stop Newton’s cradle. A great thought­provoking phrase is “now progress takes away what forever took to find,” showing how reflective and thoughtful Matthews is in his lyrical creation.

The Dreaming Tree is complex, cryptic, and dark. Dave sings the lyrics with such emotion that it’s hard not to stop and listen. The music is some of the best the album has to offer. The entrancing guitar riff, the chugging bass, the saxophone, all of it is great. The Dreaming Tree keeps you coming back because of the enigmatic lyrics and hypnotic music. A highlight of this album, without a doubt.

This is one of the most beautifully written and sad Dave Matthews Band songs you will ever hear. I absolutely love the lyrics, Dave’s guitar playing, and LeRoi’s saxophone. This is another one of those songs I would rather listen to at night, or when it is dark out. It is a softer song by the band, but I cannot see why anybody wouldn’t like it.

Pig

Pig is a soothing tune with a heavy, syncopated style of drumming from Beauford, and more thought­-provoking lyrics from Matthews. I dig the usage of an animal as a metaphor for this song. Pig provides a great example of how the band’s unique musical elements of sax, violin, acoustic guitar, bass, and drums can blend well in a song dynamically in a way that the listeners can surely enjoy.

Pig is an acquired taste. I did not like it upon my initial listens, but it has grown on me over time. The meaning of the song is nice and honest, Boyd’s violin is great, and the passion is clearly present. This track was initially difficult for me to get a grasp on because it had a glossier, showier sound than the rest of the album. Regardless, I have come to terms with Pig. I deem it a solid song.

Pig is an interesting song. I really like its intro. One could find themselves on a farm or the countryside with Boyd’s violin. The song has a nice western/country feel to it. Pig is best, however, when it picks up in tempo.

Spoon

Alanis Morisette’s vocals can’t be more beautiful than they are here. This song is thought to have a religious reference, predominantly through the phrase: “Could dad be God…forgive you why, you hung me out to dry.” The song moves at a slow pace with the great attribution of Bela Fleck on the banjo and Moore’s soothing sax playing throughout the song. It serves as a sweet closer for the album.

I really like how Spoon starts, slowly and with a strong, dark overtone. This rhythmic, relaxed track is perhaps one of the darkest, saddest, most contemplative songs this band had created. It grows more intriguing as the narrative progresses. Alanis Morisette adds a nice touch to Spoon. The Last Stop reprise that concludes this song is a flowing, relaxing finish to this album. I love Spoon.

I have always found it cool that the band got Alanis Morissette to be part of this album. She does a great job in this song. It’s another soft, slow song that is beautiful. It is nice to see the Dave Matthews Band take a shot at the soft rock sub-genre, and it does work. I always found it funny that the song was called Spoon, but you never know what you will get from these guys. It’s cool that there is banjo (not the bear) in this song. I also enjoyed the guitar starting around four minutes until the end. Spoon is a great way to end this masterpiece. Thank you all for reading this review! Just remember, Don’t Drink the Water, especially on Halloween!

Lazy Saturday Project’s Top 3: 

Last Stop

The Stone

Crush

My top 3: 

The Last Stop

Don’t Drink the Water

The Dreaming Tree

Robert’s Top 3: 

The Last Stop

Don’t Drink the Water

Crush

Before These Crowded Streets is a masterpiece of a record. It is dark, insightful, and complex, both musically and lyrically. Big ideas and bold sounds define this album. This Filet is a meaty one that you need to have in your music library. 

I’d like to thank Lazy Saturday Project for hopping aboard this review. I urge you to check out his blog! It’s full of album reviews and original songs. This guy’s got pipes. It’s a fresh, clean blog here on WordPress that is worth your attention. Here’s the link again in case you’re lazy your thumb/index finger is too tired to scroll back up. Thanks again to him! 🙂

~Juck

Lydia Album Review: Illuminate (2008)

*requested review* Abbe Hinder, who has her own blog centered around music and books, requested that Robert and I review this album.

In green is my opinion. I have never heard of this band. This album will be my first exposure to their music.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He isn’t familiar with Lydia either. He enjoys indie rock, however, so he is looking forward to this album review.

This is Twice Now

This is Twice Now begins with some great piano and then eases into a nice groove. I am not a huge fan of the singer’s voice, but it is bearable, as he does sing the lyrics tenderly. The drummer does a fantastic job here as well. This is Twice Now is a nice introduction to this album. Let’s see what Lydia can bring to the table.

I was hooked to this song the moment I heard the nice piano intro. The lyrics are really nice and the chorus is wonderful. I love the vibe this song brings. This is Twice Now is a warm welcome to start this album.

A Fine Evening for a Rogue

This song is like a steak that the chef insists is worth 50 dollars that is actually worth closer to 15 dollars. Lydia slaps a lot of muscle onto this song, with bold instrumentals and nonsensical lyrics that they feel nobody will question, but in the end, there is no heart. It’s a sappy song, is what I am trying to say. I don’t doubt that it has meaning to the singer, but I am failing to figure out what this guy means by what he is saying.

I really love the guitar and drums in this song, as they are perfectly harmonized. The lyrics are great too, and I love how the last minute of the song is solely instrumental. I feel that the lyrics are telling a story, but I cannot seem to figure them out, which makes me want to listen to this song over and over again.

I Woke Up Near the Sea

If I were to order a steak at a restaurant and be served a dish with mashed potatoes squished into an ugly mountain with asparagus hanging off of the sides, I would name that dish I Woke Up Near the Sea, because this song is a mess. The band tries so hard lyrically to be metaphorically insightful and fails on every level. If a singer is  going to diss a girl, he has to do it right. If it isn’t done right, the singer sounds like a twerp. Exhibit A.

If I ever woke up near the sea and this was song I first heard, I might end up feeling sad. I cannot tell if this song is supposed to be deep or not, but I still love the words, as they make you wonder what the song is really about.

Hospital

Hospital doesn’t move anywhere but backwards. Let me be clear. I listen to Dave Matthews. I am quite good at understanding what he is saying, even between all of the noises and quirks in his voice. But when vocal effects are slapped onto shouting, it makes it too difficult for even me to understand. A track with potential, Hospital manages to fall flat due to the unintelligible lyrics. I would imagine that this song is much more of a spectacle live, but unfortunately it was captured poorly in the studio.

The moment I saw the title of the song, I knew that it would be sad. Sure enough, it is, and it can be emotional at times. Once again we get some powerful lyrics that are drilled into our minds and manage to linger. It’s because of how deep and emotional the song is that I love it!

Fate

There we go! A song that moves! I still can’t understand what this guy is saying, but the music is dynamic enough on its own to make an impression. The piano and bass sound remarkable, standing out among the other fantastic instrumentals provided. Fate sounds warmly familiar, and while it isn’t a stellar track, it is one that knows what it is doing. This track reminds me of the Arctic Monkeys’ Fireside, which isn’t a negative thing by any means.

After two deep and emotional songs, Fate gives us that uplifting sound we have been wanting. I love the instruments in this song as well as the lyrics, once again. I also love how the vocals are at a lower octave rather than a higher one because it effectively establishes the positive mood.

Sleep Well

The drummer should do us all a favor and ditch this band. He should pursue other endeavors with talented musicians. He does a fantastic job on this song. No other component comes close to topping the drums. I strongly dislike this song because of how little it offers.

If you ever have a bad day (I have had many of those days) and you need something to make your day better, then listen to this song. You can thank me later when your day brightens up like an emerging sunrise. The instruments are what make this song bright, while the lyrics do the opposite, creating an interesting contrast. I could easily sleep well after listening to this song.

Stay Awake

There is nothing about this song that has any kind of weight or value. I would like it if the singer stopped yelling and the band played something that’s different from the last fifteen tracks.

When I saw this song was called Stay Awake, I immediately thought it would be a polar opposite of Sleep Well. I literally had to look up the lyrics to this song because of how sad and deep it is. It seems like the guy really loves a girl, but their relationship cannot go any further. The guy is then stuck in the rain feeling sad, as a big part of his life is missing. This is by far the most depressing songs on the album. Their relationship is going downhill, but the guy still loves the girl. I really wish I could relate to this song. Words cannot describe how beautiful it is.

All I See

Well, at least my ears aren’t being violated. Regardless, there is nothing remotely musical about All I See. To keep from coming across as juvenile, I try my best to refrain from using the word ‘annoying.’ But I cannot control myself any longer. This song is annoying.

All I see turns to brown. No, wait, wrong song, wrong band! All I See is another one of those songs that is emotional, mainly due to the instruments. We also get some more powerful vocals about how dangerous love can really be.

One More Day

The beginning of this song reminded me of the fast-moving Fate, so I was hopeful. Unfortunately, my hopes were instantly shattered once the song sank back into the same repetitive sound as the other tracks on Illuminate. The guitar solo was enjoyable, but I can’t understand why the guitarist hadn’t shown off his tricks earlier on the record.

I cannot even tell what the meaning of this song is, and I honestly do not think anybody will be able to. One More Day has the great lyrics and instruments that have been making these songs great. The songs are getting repetitive, but that is why this album and the songs are likable. They really play with your emotions.

…Ha Yeah It Got Pretty Bad

This cheekily named song oozes Coheed and Cambria, which is a great thing. I heard a lot of Coheed and Cambria as a young lad, and this short track emulates them in their sound. I dig this little tune.

Dang it! Why do we have to get a short song? The guitar on this track is nice, but if the song was longer, it would have been better. This is why I hate songs that are only a minute long, because you always want more to be said. This song could have benefited from being longer.

Now the One You Once Loved Is Leaving

Where the hell has this girl been the whole time? She’s fantastic! The dark piano complements her vocals, and the chorus is rhythmic and emotional. This song has structure and melody, two things that almost seemed impossible for this band to lock down. This girl should not have been benched for the duration of this album. Instead, she should have taken over the unmoving lead vocalist’s role. I feel that she could have saved this album from being the flat line that it was. 

Illuminate ends with the longest song on the album, which contains a guitar sound that pleases me. I love the lyrics as well, which pair well with the guitar. This is a mellow song to end the saddest album I have ever listened to. I also love how it ends with the guitar. I would like to thank Abbe for requesting this album, as I will gladly add it to my CD collection. As always, thank you all for reading yet another album review. Please check out our other reviews and stay tuned for more!

Top 3

Fate

…Ha Yeah It Got Pretty Bad

Now the One You Once Loved Is Leaving

Top 3

Hospital

Sleep Well

Stay Awake

Before I provide my final thoughts, I’d like to thank Abbe once again for requesting this album. I truly hope you don’t hate me because of my critical opinions. Overall, this album was an underwhelming listen. There are some moments that displayed the potential of individual band members, but the combination of them resulted in colorless music. I am sorry to say that Illuminate from Lydia is a Hotdog. Because Robert enjoyed it strongly, however, I must deem it a strong Hotdog, topped with onion. I would not recommend this album.

~Juck