Archive for July, 2012

July 31, 2012

Album 0079: Queen – A Day At The Races

Release Date: 1976
Genre: Rock

Tracklisting:

1. Tie Your Mother Down (04:50)
2. You Take My Breath Away (05:08)
3. Long Away (03:33)
4. The Millionaire Waltz (04:56)
5. You And I (03:28)
6. Somebody To Love (04:59)
7. White Man (04:59)
8. Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy (02:54)
9. Drowse (03:46)
10. Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) (05:55)
11. Tie Your Mother Down (1991 remix by Matt Wallace) (03:44)
12. Somebody To Love (1991 remix by Randy Badazz) (05:01)
13. Tie Your Mother Down (Backing Track Mix 2011) (03:49)
14. Somebody To Love (Live at Milton Keynes, June 1982) (07:57)
15. You Take My Breath Away (Live in Hyde Park, September 1976) (03:07)
16. Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy (Top of the Pops, July 1977 (Mono)) (02:53)
17. Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) (HD mix) (04:47)

Total Length: 01:15:48

Tie Your Mother Down is a really fun rock song. Not an amazing track, but a really cool start to the album that kicks it off with a bang. You Take My Breath Away is simply beautiful. It’s a rare song that has nearly brought me to tears. Long Away is a lot of fun, pretty much just a classic Queen song. The guitars are memorable, the vocals are layered and intricate, and it’s overall just catchy as hell.

The Millionaire Waltz is just an insane amount of fun. The only issue I have is with the intro, having the bass at any time not be directly in the center just feels weird. I love all the changes in this song, like a lighthearted Bohemian Rhapsody. You And I is a very good track, but let’s just say it quickly gets outdone in just a moment. Somebody To Love was the big hit single for the album, and man is it something. It’s a huge track, with 100 vocal parts by the band overall, and it’s brilliant. Pretty much everyone can identify with this song, and not even in a generic way. The song makes a pretty deep mark for the psyche of almost every living person, I think.

White Man changes the tone to something more angry. The main riff is incredibly heavy for the band, and the lyrics are pretty well charged. Really cool song. Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy then goes back to the fun feeling. This song just begs you to sing along, and there’s just so many neat little bits. Drowse has a very fitting title, it captures that sluggish feeling perfectly, while still being a neat song. Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) is almost unbelievable. It’s in that same class of songs as You Take My Breath Away, and to have both on one album seems like an amazing feat. I love everything about this song, from the instruments to the lyrics (including two choruses in Japanese) and the ending that makes the album cyclical. Just brilliant.

The bonus tracks start off with some remixes. Tie Your Mother Down almost feels like it’s mixed to be like a country song. Just the feeling I get from how he handled the guitars and drums. I’d say I still prefer the original mix, but this is definitely interesting to hear, as everything is ‘tighter’. Somebody To Love is undoubtedly worse. A lot of it has to do with the style of the time, like how there is an ungodly amount of reverb, but it just seems like the guy didn’t understand the intent of the song.

We then get the backing tracks for Tie Your Mother Down which is pretty neat, but not something you really listen to all the time. There aren’t cool instrumental moments hiding in the background like with some other bands. Somebody To Love is a live track, and of course the arrangement is incredibly different. It has to be to compensate for not having as many vocals available. This would be really cool to experience live, but isn’t great to listen to. You Take My Breath Away is also live, and it’s performed solo by Freddie Mercury. It’s performed a little faster and doesn’t quite hit me as much emotionally.

Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy is also live, but from a TV show so it’s got a bit different energy. It’s also in mono, but it is still just as fun. Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) is apparently an HD mix. I’m not sure what that means, but it just sounds like a version mixed with updated technology, and the outro removed. I don’t really like how all of the dynamic range has been removed, but it isn’t near as bad of a remix as the other tracks. Overall, going off of the main album alone even, this is an amazing album. Just love it. It works as an album experience, where a song here or there may not hold up if you listen to it by itself, but the songs work well together very well.

Final Rating: 9.5/10

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July 26, 2012

Album 0078: The Phenomenauts – For All Mankind

Release Date: 2008
Genre: Punk/Rockabilly

Tracklisting:

1. All Go For Launch (01:26)
2. Man Alone (03:05)
3. Cyborg (02:47)
4. Make A Circuit With Me (02:29)
5. Navitron (02:22)
6. Tale Of Europa (03:11)
7. Heroes (02:23)
8. She’ll Launch (03:02)
9. Infinite Frontier (03:27)
10. Compensation (02:46)
11. Don’t Overheat On Me (02:36)
12. Into A Time Warp (02:45)
13. Science And Honor (03:39)
14. The Colvin Moon (04:02)

Total Length: 40:00

All Go For Launch is a really neat intro track, like the band’s own Mouseketeers theme. Man Alone has an odd mix, but is a very fun song. I just love this band’s space punk/rockabilly thing they have going. Cyborg brings the rockabilly to the forefront, and the chorus is simply amazing. Make A Circuit With Me is a very fun, ‘romantic’ song with science lyrics.

Navitron is a cool track, but doesn’t make you want to hit the repeat button like some of the previous tracks. I do like how the ending leads directly into Tale Of Europa, and the song is much the same. Just a solid song. Heroes is fun, mostly because of the lyrics and synths. She’ll Launch has some neat moments but doesn’t really take hold of me. Infinite Frontier however gets going and is just awesome.

Compensation is a great song. Don’t Overheat On Me has some odd noises in the mix for some reason, but the chorus is a lot of fun and urges you to sing along. Into A Time Warp is pretty neat, it has a cool atmosphere. Science And Honor has fantastic lyrics and I love the chorus. The Colvin Moon is a mostly-instrumental finishing track, and it’s pretty great. It makes me wish that the band would try their hand at more progressive stuff, but oh well. They’ve found their niche and they are good at it, and their songwriting keeps getting better and better.

Final Rating: 9/10

July 25, 2012

Album 0077: They Might Be Giants – Lincoln

Release Date: 1988
Genre: Alternative Rock/New Wave

Tracklisting:

1. Ana Ng (03:23)
2. Cowtown (02:21)
3. Lie Still, Little Bottle (02:06)
4. Purple Toupee (02:40)
5. Cage & Aquarium (01:10)
6. Where Your Eyes Don’t Go (03:06)
7. Piece Of Dirt (02:01)
8. Mr. Me (01:52)
9. Pencil Rain (02:42)
10. The World’s Address (02:24)
11. I’ve Got A Match (02:37)
12. Santa’s Beard (01:55)
13. You’ll Miss Me (01:54)
14. They’ll Need A Crane (02:33)
15. Shoehorn With Teeth (01:13)
16. Stand On Your Own Head (01:16)
17. Snowball In Hell (02:32)
18. Kiss Me, Son Of God (01:53)

Total Length: 39:39

Ana Ng is a fairly neat song, but more for being unique rather than just being good. It’s enjoyable to listen to once or twice, but after that I start getting tired of it. Cowtown is kind of the same, but the neat sounds this time help the song be more memorable. I also enjoy the rhythm of the main section of the song. Lie Still, Little Bottle seems like an idea that unnecessarily became a full song. Purple Toupee is fairly fun, just a really cool song.

Cage & Aquarium is a little song that stays just as long as it should, unlike a couple tracks so far. Where Your Eyes Don’t Go is much more of a traditional song, with the quirkiness of TMBG infused in it. The bridge is childish though. Piece Of Dirt is an interesting song, pretty nice and subdued. Mr. Me is one of the best tracks the band has ever done, where their nonsensical lyrics work wonderfully. Just fantastic.

Pencil Rain is kind of melodramatic but it works. The World’s Address really doesn’t interest me in any way. I’ve Got A Match is pretty much the same deal, just feels like a waste. Santa’s Beard is just a weird idea with oddly placed cuckolding lyrics. You’ll Miss Me is a song where I have no idea what they were trying to do here.

They’ll Need A Crane is fairly fun, mostly for the chorus. Shoehorn With Teeth is just the right length for the weirdness. Stand On Your Own Head is another short song, but this time I don’t even totally care for it even at this length. Snowball In Hell is fairly neat, but the bridge has no use. The samples are nearly indiscernible and just slow the song down. Kiss Me, Son Of God is the other really great song. Cool instrument choices, and fairly neat lyrics. Basically, this album isn’t bad to listen through, but the individual songs don’t entirely hold up on their own. That said, there’s nothing on here I hate so I just consider this a slightly above average album.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

July 23, 2012

Album 0076: Morbid Angel – Illud Divinum Insanus

Release Date: 2011
Genre: Death/Industrial Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Omni Potens (02:28)
2. Too Extreme! (06:13)
3. Existo Vulgoré (03:59)
4. Blades For Baal (04:52)
5. I Am Morbid (05:17)
6. 10 More Dead (04:51)
7. Destructos Vs. The Earth/Attack (07:15)
8. Nevermore (05:08)
9. Beauty Meets Beast (04:57)
10. Radikult (07:37)
11. Profundis – Mea Culpa (04:06)

Total Length: 56:43

Omni Potens is a very annoying intro track, honestly mostly due to the drums and how everything sounds dead. Add on the fact that a good chunk of it is repeated later on in the album (which can be good or bad, it’s just bad in this case) and you’ve got yourself a useless track. Too Extreme! starts the actual songs off, and it’s an industrial tinged piece. I kind of enjoy the lyrics and some musical moments, but the pace is just too slow and I eventually get tired of the song.

Existo Vulgoré is more of a traditional song for the band, fast and heavy. That said, I’m not entirely fond of it. The vocals sound strained and tired. Blades For Baal is a decent song. There’s nothing terrible about it but I don’t find myself really liking it too much either. I Am Morbid has some pretty cool riffs, and I don’t mind the lyrics. Maybe the guitars get a bit cheesy at points, and like most tracks on here it goes a bit too long but it’s not a bad song.

10 More Dead is much the same, but again goes too long. Also really not fond of the chorus honestly. Destructos Vs. The Earth/Attack is such a divisive song. Personally, I feel like this is the best industrial song on the album, as that type of music mixed with the modified vocals really does sound like an alien force invading. The bad parts though are some of the guitars (and one particular repeating riff that goes on way, way too long) that sounds far too 90s Metallica. The ‘Attack’ section at the end is claimed by some people to be the best thing on the album, but I don’t understand. It sounds like some high school trying to see just how fast they can play, it does nothing for me.

Nevermore is an alright song, again too long but that’s to be expected. Maybe Morbid Angel should try making an album with a time limit of 40 minutes like the good old days? Beauty Meets Beast really does nothing for me, in all honesty. Radikult is another song that gets really harsh reactions. I actually enjoy the musical aspect of this song, but the lyrics are ungodly terrible and goofy. The song also, of course, goes on for far too long, and part of that length is the reprisal of the awful intro track.

Profundis – Mea Culpa is a song I actually enjoy. It’s actually a neat mix of both styles they have on here. It sounds like the industrial stuff sound/instrument wise, but with the pace and craziness of their death metal tracks. The lyrics are give or take, but any usage of Latin is usually fun. Basically, this album is just a whole mixed bag of weird stuff. I do disagree with some reviews that trash on this album simply for being different. If you want to hate this album, hate it for having badly written songs or the very ‘meh’ vocals, not just because it’s not the band’s usual style. There’s a little bit I enjoy on here, but it seems like the band themselves were conflicted on this album.

Final Rating: 6/10

July 22, 2012

Album 0075: Flogging Molly – Speed Of Darkness

Release Date: 2011
Genre: Folk/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. Speed Of Darkness (04:08)
2. Revolution (03:13)
3. The Heart Of The Sea (03:43)
4. Don’t Shut ‘Em Down (03:40)
5. The Power’s Out (04:39)
6. So Sail On (02:47)
7. Saints & Sinners (03:31)
8. This Present State Of Grace (02:48)
9. The Cradle Of Humankind (05:11)
10. Oliver Boy (All Of Our Boys) (04:07)
11. A Prayer For Me In Silence (01:54)
12. Rise Up (03:34)

Total Length: 43:15

Speed Of Darkness is a really cool song, but it does feel a bit unfocused at points. That may have more to do with the mix though. Revolution is kind of a generic angry song. Like, after this band has been around so long they have gotten the message of this song across in so many different ways that it’s entirely unnecessary. The Heart Of The Sea kind of gives off a pirate vibe, but isn’t all too great. I don’t hate it, but I wouldn’t pick it to listen to.

Don’t Shut ‘Em Down has a very cool verse, just really neat rhythmically. The chorus isn’t all that much though. The Power’s Out is kind of the same deal. I really like the drum driven verses, but the lyrics just do nothing for me. So Sail On is kind of nice but doesn’t really go anywhere. Saints & Sinners is a lot of fun, a good bright spot on the album.

This Present State Of Grace doesn’t really have a point on the album. It’s another softer song, but that void is filled much better by the very next song. That said, it’s not a bad listen. The Cradle Of Humankind may be a bit cheesy, but it’s probably the best song on the album. The strings really make it. Oliver Boy (All Of Our Boys) is a really neat track, more like their older material.

A Prayer For Me In Silence is a fantastic little track. The guest singer on here really does a great job. Rise Up then, in comparison, is a total disappointment. More cheesy lyrics with the same exact theme as like three other songs on here, and not all that great musically. However, despite these little nitpicks I don’t fully mind this album. It’s not a bad listen and doesn’t last too long.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

July 21, 2012

Album 0074: Kids Can’t Fly – Strength In Numbers

Release Date: 2010
Genre: Ska/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. She Called Shotgun (03:34)
2. Tune In (03:26)
3. The Summer (03:16)
4. Writing Letters (acoustic) (04:36)
5. Tune In (acoustic) (03:33)

Total Length: 18:23

Oh hi there British ska-pop-punk. She Called Shotgun is cheesy fun, while listening to it I feel like I shouldn’t like this song but I can’t help but enjoy it. Tune In is pretty neat, but (and this is probably just the American in me) but the accents in the vocals are just so pronounced here that I can’t help but just kind of tilt my head. They almost sound fake.

The Summer is fairly good but honestly just a bit too cheesy. Writing Letters and the acoustic version of Tune In both have the issue of simply feeling like early backing tracks combined with the finished vocals. It leaves the feeling of not being complete songs, though I’m sure these would be good live in a coffee house or something. Overall this EP is a nice little offering by the band, and just leaves me looking forward to their first full length.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

July 20, 2012

Album 0073: Blind Guardian – Imaginations From The Other Side

Release Date: 1995
Genre: Power Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Imaginations From The Other Side (07:19)
2. I’m Alive (05:31)
3. A Past And Future Secret (03:47)
4. The Script For My Requiem (06:09)
5. Mordred’s Song (05:29)
6. Born In A Mourning Hall (05:14)
7. Bright Eyes (05:16)
8. Another Holy War (04:32)
9. And The Story Ends (06:00)
10. A Past And Future Secret (demo) (03:38)
11. Imaginations From The Other Side (demo) (07:14)
12. The Script For My Requiem (demo) (07:01)

Total Length: 01:07:08

Alright, so I’ll just start off by saying that this album is one of those ‘turning point’ albums. I mean, I honestly think this is an incredible important album. But anyhow, Imaginations From The Other Side starts off fairly atmospheric, and the first time the band really uses keyboards combined with the fantasy lyrics (literally all about different fantasy literature and films) makes for a fantastic song. Hansi’s vocals are of course one of the highlights of any Blind Guardian album.

I’m Alive is just brilliant as well, especially the chorus. It just urges you to sing along. A Past And Future Secret is a softer track, which honestly sometimes the production gets ahead of itself in a sense. I still really like the song, and actually the first of 2 songs on the album regarding King Arthur in some way. The Script For My Requiem is historically influenced, and I just love all the little touches in this song. The vocals for sure make it.

Mordred’s Song is the other Arthurian song, and boy do I love it. The chorus and Queen-like guitars really stand out here. Born In A Mourning Hall is just a lot of fun, but I can’t really point to anything standing out. Bright Eyes takes a minute to get going, but is very cool. Not my favorite track on the album though. Another Holy War is brilliant though, just fantastic riffs and lyrics.

And The Story Ends has probably the best vocals on the entire album, so emotional. I just love this song to death. The demo version of A Past And Future Secret is pretty nice because I like it being subdued, but some of the flair was missing as well. The demo of Imaginations From The Other Side is a bit rougher but still works really well.

The demo of A Script For My Requiem has some keyboard stuff that I wish had been as pronounced in the final version, and is a bit longer. Overall this album is just amazing to listen through, every song gets your attention and has something to offer. Just a brilliant entry for the genre, and solidifies Blind Guardian as one of my favorite bands.

Final Rating: 9.5/10

July 16, 2012

Album 0072: Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Release Date: 1970
Genre: Doom Metal

Tracklisting:

1. War Pigs (07:56)
2. Paranoid (02:48)
3. Planet Caravan (04:30)
4. Iron Man (05:55)
5. Electric Funeral (04:51)
6. Hand Of Doom (07:09)
7. Rat Salad (02:30)
8. Fairies Wear Boots (06:14)

Total Length: 41:53

War Pigs is just classic, showcasing Ozzy’s great vocals and the band’s laid back pace that set the stage for doom metal. I do have a slight issue with the production though, the bass being solely off to the left is just strange, especially in the intro. Paranoid is a very fun song with a catchy riff. Just a neat piece of work. Planet Caravan is more of an atmospheric song, which would seem out of place but fits the tone of the album well.

Iron Man is another classic, and this is the best version of the song in my opinion. Any cover or re-recording is nowhere near as interesting. Electric Funeral has a riff that I’m not too fond of, but the song itself is still fun, especially the chorus. Hand Of Doom is an incredibly fitting song title, probably being the namesake of the genre. Just a great song over all.

Rat Salad is a fun little instrumental track, nothing special though. Fairies Wear Boots has really neat guitar work, along with slightly goofy, trippy lyrics. I really enjoy this song. Overall this album is a solid piece of history, well deserved.

Final Rating: 8/10

Note: I will eventually be adding thoughts on a bonus disc consisting of alternate and instrumental versions of all the tracks.

July 15, 2012

Album 0071: Wolves In The Throne Room – Diadem Of 12 Stars

Release Date: 2006
Genre: Black Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Queen Of The Borrowed Light (12:58)
2. Face In A Night Time Mirror (Part 1) (13:21)
3. Face In A Night Time Mirror (Part 2) (13:58)
4. (A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem Of 12 Stars (20:22)

Total Length: 01:00:39

Four big songs make up this album. Queen Of The Borrowed Light needs no slow buildup, it just gets right into the heaviness. The first 5 minutes are really engaging black metal that I get lost in, before going into a softer instrumental section. Pretty good song all in all, it has one of my most liked qualities of black metal: being able to just get entranced by it.

Face In A Night Time Mirror (Part 1) has some nice female vocals, and carries on more of the same style as the first track. The mix is a little odd though, with entire frequency spectra disappearing and later reappearing. Face In A Night Time Mirror (Part 2) is a bit heavier than the first part, which is a lot of fun.

(A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem Of 12 Stars is a big frickin’ song, and it’s pretty neat. It doesn’t entirely set itself apart from the previous songs, but it’s not bad. I enjoy listening through this album, but I wouldn’t call it one of my favorites as only a little of it sticks with me.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

July 13, 2012

Album 0070: Mad Caddies – Quality Soft Core

Release Date: 1997
Genre: Ska/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. I’m So Alone (04:10)
2. Distress (03:50)
3. Cup O’ Tea (01:44)
4. The Bell Tower (02:43)
5. No Sé (02:41)
6. Crew Cut Chuck (01:57)
7. Goleta (01:25)
8. Big Brother (03:26)
9. L.G.’s (03:21)
10. Polyester Khakis (02:21)
11. Preppie Girl (02:35)
12. Mum’s The Word (01:38)
13. Sad Reggie (04:51)

Total Length: 36:43

I’m So Alone is a really cool song because it starts off simple but keeps building and getting faster. It’s like it has 3 separate sections which makes for one cool song. Distress is more reggae-tinged, and really shows off how evocative Chuck’s vocals are. Cup O’ Tea is a very fun little song, just done and over with. The Bell Tower has a great horn riff and there is a great rhythm that the vocals follow.

No Sé is alright, not a great song but I appreciate them trying some interesting things. Crew Cut Chuck is the same way, some nice experimentation but not a great song. Goleta is an okay little song, not much to it. Big Brother is fairly fun, even if the intro seems very generic. L.G.’s is a pretty nice song.

Polyester Khakis is an alright song but the lyrics are very off putting. Preppie Girl is the meanest song on the album but it’s also a heck of a lot of fun. Mum’s The Word is a really cool short song, love the lyrics. Sad Reggie is another more reggae based song, and while I like this song it does go on a bit too long. This album overall has a couple strong songs, but the band just isn’t refined quite yet.

Final Rating: 7/10