This new single from the literal best band in the world leaves much to be desired. After dropping my favorite album of last year, Armaggedonize, this semi-turd is what they muster for the Melodifestivalen/Eurovision Song Contest 2016.
While this would be Eclipse by the books, an epic anthem with whistle-clean production and a delicious set of vocal hooks, they make one horrible mistake: the awful opening part of the chorus. It does that horrible thing where the vocals and guitars have the same melody, like Sabbath’s “Iron Man” but infinitely more disappointing since these guys know better. Hopefully the Eurovision Song Contest is judged based on how awesome your last three albums were.
Just checked, it’s not. The best band in the world is screwed.
Bloodhound Gang are stuck in a time where dick jokes were witty and hip. Not only that, but they’re also stuck in a time where pop-punk and Ace of Base were the only kind of music that mattered. If you’re wondering what time that was, it was the ’90s.
Retro ’90s is finally here, complete with references to Columbine, John Goodman, and all sorts of other crap you’ve put behind you. POGs and Beanie Babies are noticably absent, but good ol’ irony makes a comeback in “Diary of a Stranger”, a tongue-in-cheek ode to ’80s new wave that’s already been done by thousands of better musicians who don’t make four minute long diaherria jokes.
Eventually they try to make Billy Mays and Anna Nicole Smith references, but they’re still a decade too late. By the time the Beastie Boys rip-off “We’re Gonna Bring the Party to You” comes on, you’ll be telling ’90s and 2000s nostalgia to eat your shorts.
Welcome to Futurepop, a genre that will always be trapped in 2002.
Angels and Agony make a valiant attempt at still sounding relevant, with hypnotic synth melodies and beautifully crisp monotone vocals. Unfortunately, that’s every Futurepop band ever. VNV Nation, Apoptygma Berzerk, and Neuroticfish have made some great albums, but what is there to set Angels and Agony apart from the pack?
The answer is nothing. They keep going with fake grins and little beads of sweat forming on their forehead, hoping to God that no one notices they have nothing new to say or do.
Cavaverman wants you to believe that they’re like the Misfits, and sometimes they succeed. The vocalist has that Elvis and Jim Morrison’s baby thing going on just like Danzig. “Teenwolf” will have you whoa-oh-ohing along throughout, while “Lora Ashley” is some great ’50s ballad-come-punk junk. If there was a Misfits chorus genome project, “Green Goblin” would be an essential element to cracking the code.
Yet Cavaverman buries these good tracks under a bunch of garbage, garbage that sounds too much like AFI for comfort. “Dead In Berlin” is an awful “Boy Who Destroyed the World” re-write, but even that’s better than the Green Day genericism of “Inside You”, “Hero”, and “Just Another Day”. With a four awful to three great song ratio, what’s left are five tracks that leave no lasting impression.
So after writing all of that, I checked out Cavaverman’s 2013 album, James Dead. It’s supposed to be a play on James Dean. “James Dean? More like James DEAD!” is something I probably would have said in high school for some stupid reason. Regardless, it’s a much better album that retains the Misfits influence throughout. I’d give it a B+, but I’m not reviewing that, am I?
Spitting Feathers by Spitting Feathers by Spitting Feathers by Spitting Feathers
Spitting Feathers by Spitting Feathers is a self titled debut album from the band Spitting Feathers from Sweden. This album is not to be confused with the EP by Thom Yorke, the English “alternative” rock band, the beer enthusiasts, or the English “folk” rock band. There must be some affinity with English people, feathers, and spitting.Citing influences from NWOBHM, Spitting Feathers by Spitting Feathers is a refreshing “melodic hard rock” album featuring some good quality music. The melodious and squeaky vocals will raise up memories of basement recording at mom’s. Also heard on this album is a new phenomenon shaking the music world known by some as the badly played piano. Every album coming out nowadays has some and this one does it well.
Spitting Feathers by Spitting Feathers is my January Album of the month because it has a great raw quality and is not in any way shy. The sucky piano makes itself scarce. The guitars shred hooks galore in straight amp-to-ear fashion. Bass plays the root and sometimes walks it down. The drums are really basic, so good job, I guess, probably the only thing I’d change since they resemble mid-00’s pop-punk, specifically the UFAP (up front and personal) kick drum. The singing is pure and un-frilled and full of anthemic chants backed by power chords and back beats.
The lyrics across the board are unashamed and pointed. Crash Landing is an example of good ol-fashioned punk writing. Although three ballads might be too much for some bands, Spitting Feathers features two pure ballads and the final track, titled “Nowhere,” which one might call a “half-ballad.” Nowhere features one of my favorite lines on the album: “Don’t get started ‘cause I’ve heard it all before. There is no space for being human anymo’.” It is also constructed in sudo-sonata format with an introduction, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, interlude, return, chorus, conclusion with a fade out.
The production, which apparently took most of last year, keeps the lows low and the highs high creating a lot of motion. I do not know if this band is ever going to leave Sweden but any show they do is sure to be a good one. Plus, the logo is pretty good.
The whole album can be previewed on SoundCloud because this band is cool. There probably will not be any vinyl available outside of Sweden, but maybe if someone is going there…
I wish all retro 80’s stuff was instantly worthwhile, I really do. Cool, dark synths and retro drum samples are pretty tasty. Unfortunately, Dance With The Dead have one song structure: build up to a big part, big part, build up to big part, big part, repeat. If you like forty-five minutes of non-stop electro-ACTION, this is for you.
Even more ridiculous are the endless guitar theatrics. I thought electronic music was doing okay without constant interference from ex-metal dudes who realized there was more money in big dance clubs than in slimey metal bars where every toilet has been leaking since 2003. These guys muck up every song and need to go away.
But they never do, no matter how hard you pray. The crescendos keep coming and the guitars keep bloating as you slowly become desensitized to mega excitement and ultra hipness. This album will turn you into your parents and immediately force you to understand their thoughts on whatever crap came from your adolescent stereo: it’s loud, it’s stupid, and what’s the point of living in a world that creates this shit?
When it comes to early punk rock, the best bands always made changes for the worse: the Angry Samoans became a flaccid psych-pop band, the Meatmen switched to motorcycle cock metal, etc. The change always hurt, but the results were at least marginally interesting, unlike the dozens of albums that crappy pop-punk bands like Pennywise and Screeching Weasel churn out all the time. Epitaph and Fat Wreck Chords are creative tar pits, and their legions of dinosaur bands will all sink into the depths of hell as I, the God of all generic pop-punk, raise plague and pestilence upon them.
Amongst the locusts and such, I’d probably spare Teenage Bottlerocket. It’s a repeat of their previous albums for sure, featuring the same storming Ramones and Misfits-inspired melodies that have been their signature for over a decade. The only real variety is in the tempos, which switch between uptempo to very fast. The best tracks are a Kevin Smith pop-culture junkies dream, with references to Vincent Price and Metallica peppered throughout.
The album ends on a debbie-downer with some crappy ballad, but even that can’t stop Teenage Bottlerocket from being one of the best we-write-the-same-song-over-and-over bands out there. It makes you feel like these guys are living their adolescent punk dream for all of us, cranking out the same quality three chords until the coroner pries the guitars from their cold, dead hands. The Ramones, the Misfits, the Damned, and all the rest of them couldn’t do it, but maybe Teenage Bottlerocket can.
On the Moon at Noon by Nothing hill is another album that has a good track 5. There are a lot of albums in the past that had a good track five, like all of the Offspring.Nothing Hill bills as Italian “melodic rock” and an enjoyable part of this band’s persona is their Facebook response to getting leaked on Pirate Bay: “Funny.We are laughing out loud…Somone put us on torrent!”
On the Moon at Noon’s track five is called “Love is Ending” and has a great post-pop-punk wall of sound that is about 25 years too late, but it is quite refreshing. The vocals are nice and smashed up all thick like eggs and brownie mix. The guitar has that “contemporary shoegaze” quality but with a sense of music.
The rest of the album feels more like a variety album with a bonafide 80’s Motown R&B sound at the end, but staunchly more Italian. Unfortunately, track 5 is the only one that does feel refreshing while the remainder feels a little pushed. Either way, give On the Moon at Noon a shot for the great track five and the unique sound. Since it features a little variety, there might be something on it that tickles every fancy.
So close your eyes and think about your favorite Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, Diamond Head, Raven, or Angel Witch songs. Now imagine a bunch of Swedish dudes take them all, throw them in a blender, mix in a good amount of corn mash, put it in their still, and make some moonshine out of it. You take a drink and are taken slightly aback. While the flavor is generally lacking and has a distinctly filthy aftertaste, it remains a potent New Wave of British Heavy Metal mix.
Regurgitated NWOBHM is what Lethal Steel offers in thought, word and deed. Such carbon copying is usually frowned upon for many reasons, the most glaring being that the musicians are big fat phonies with nothing to say of their own. This might hold true for the uninitiated, but for those who understand that the NWOBHM was the single greatest movement in musical anything, Legion of the Night has all the right moves. It will not replace your favorite Raven album, but it’s a nice fix for anyone who’s afraid of music pre-2016.
In Cait Brennan’s debut, high fructose corn syrup is liberally poured all over the classical power pop formula. Like your favorite candy bar, there’s a sense of instant gratification for every track. The guitars range from rolling acoustic strums to electric staccato honks, and the vocal delivery is always the perfect mix of dreamy and aggressive. Case in point: “I Want You Back”, a short organ and drum-driven track that simmers with more passion than your grand-pappy’s power pop could ever muster.
Unfortunately, like your favorite sugary soda, your teeth start to feel fuzzy as time goes on. Cait randomly starts pulling Elton John moves on “Showman”, followed by a couple of straight Sgt. Pepper re-writes in “Meet Your Remaker” and “Harmony Lies”. Most tracks also tend to go on a little long, with half just short of the five minute mark. If power pop ever taught me anything, it’s that every good song in the universe can be squeezed between two and three minutes.