Archive Page 2

28
Mar
12

AWOLnation “Megalithic Symphony”

AWOLnation is frontman Aaron Bruno, formerly of Under the Influence of Giants, Christopher Thorn, Hayden Scott, David Amezcua, and Kenny Carkeet. The band’s name was derived from Bruno’s inexplicable avoidance to say ‘goodbye’ to anyone, hence the term AWOL.

They are signed to Red Bull Records, after Red Bull offered Bruno some free studio time where he recorded a couple songs for the band’s first album Back From Earth

You’ve undoubtedly heard the first single from the album “Sail” all through last summer and fall. As this album was released in March 2011.

They have a unique mix of punk and electronic music that brings out the best of both worlds. They are what, to me, is a perfect amalgamation to be an appealing live show. No completely pre-recorded tracks *cough* Skrillex *cough* or a DJ just sitting there tapping buttons on a sound board with an Apple symbol burning into your forehead. This style preserves the uniqueness and fun that a live show should offer.

They are the epitome of what music has lost in the past decade of the digital revolution. Something that is embodied by the Foo Fighters (and probably why we still love them) and this carries over to AWOLnation as well. FUN.
Just having fun with what you’re doing, you make music, you’re not going to get Isreal and Palestine to drop their guns Bono. You’re not going to stop the killing in Sudan by standing outside an embassy in the USA George Clooney.

Somewhere along the way musicians forgot their place. You’re here to entertain us. You want to spend all that money you make off of album sales to help those people? Go ahead. But to preach to the public that WE need to do more is stupid, especially considering you don’t pay taxes in Ireland (of all places) U2.

Hypocrisy runs rampant when you make a ton of money and tell people to do more with theirs. Which is why the term “they sold out” permeates bands that we once held near and dear (yes, Green Day too.) Remember when they were just about having fun? Now we have to listen to “Jesus of Suburbia” yuck.

AWOLnation reminds me of a time when bands knew what they were their purpose was. That they were making a living traveling the globe and brightening peoples’ days. Megalithic Symphony is just that, an album that let’s you find meaning in your own way.

“Not Your Fault” is a perfect example of this. They took an opportunity to make a really heavy handed music video but took the road that seems to be cracked and unkempt. They had fun with it. So besides these two singles that’ve made waves on the charts, my favorite track has to be “People” as it gives a nice little gem that speaks to me as the problem with the world today:

We were born to rage
We’re the price of pain
We’re a single voice
We’re the second choice
We were born to rage

What happened to our passion and sticking together? Where is the next great revolution going to come from? What is the next big “movement” going to be? It feels like between the government and corporate America, we’ve lost the world that was once our oyster. That it feels nobody can change it, that the machine is just too big to throw a cog into. That’s what this song says to me and this is why punk rock will live on; even if the sound we remember from the 80’s and 90’s has changed.

I found something in Megalithic Symphony that I like. A different sound in a time where punk bands seem to be a dying breed. Where the next generation identifies more with electronic beeps and boops than they do lyrics that help them understand and derive answers to the world.

Bob Dylan is not amused.

4/5

26
Mar
12

Black Keys Print Releases!

Hot on the news of the Dan McCarthy print release for the recent Boston show posted last week, it would now appear that famed street artist Shepard Fairey will be offering his prints for the MSG show, wow!

As always, and I love Shepard for this, his prints are being offered for a mere $45 and are limited to an edition size of 550 each.  Usually the release times are super random which limits your ability to grab his prints (often selling out in minutes, so be forewarned!).

This time Fairey has been kind enough to inform hopeful buyers that there will be two release times on 3/27  for each print:  Between 10:00 and 12:00 PST for the first print and between 3:00 and 5:00 PST for the second, be mindful that these release times are PST and not EST. 

As usual, Fairey works in his trademark red and black silkscreen colors with a brilliant use of negative space, as always his creations result in vibrant and striking imagery.

You can check out more about these prints at www.obeygiant.com  and good luck grabbing one…or two!

Dan McCarthy’s print is also now available for $40 at www.danmccarthy.org  but I’m unsure of the edition size.  If you know, please update us here at HiFi Central.

21
Mar
12

Black Keys Boston Show Print – Dan McCarthy

If you have followed this blog in the past you are well aware of HiFi Centrals obsession with limited edition art created for rock bands.  Last year I ran a month long posting about “The Art of the Music Business” and highlighted several of my favorite prints and also the artists who have mastered and re-defined this medium.  Granted, rock art posters are nothing new we can thank the legendary Bill Graham for much of the popularity even today.

I’m a huge fan of The Black Keys and so is fellow blogger NYMike (read the prior post about his show review at Madision Square Garden).  One of my favorite artists is the guy out of Massachussetts named Dan McCarthy; my wife and I have several of his prints and he always seems to come up with fun and imaginitive designs consistently.  I happened to check out his website this morning and noticed that he created a print for a recent show (March 7th) at the TD Garden in Boston; apparently they were also on sale at the event as well.  Dan posted that he will have a limited amount available on his site later this month.

His prints usually sell around $40 and go quick, so check out www.danmccarthy.org to and see ifyou can snag yourself one when released.  Let us know if you get one too!

13
Mar
12

The Black Keys Live @ MSG

There comes a time when you know you’re seeing something special, in its prime. Like how America was captivated by the Home-Run chase of 1998, the Miracle on ice in the 1980 Winter Olympics, or the Beatles stepping off a plane in America to rabid fans…

that’s how Madison Square Garden felt last night. Everyone knows who they are, their blues attitude and their rock riffs. They are rock stars at their peak and they proved to the world’s most famous arena that this is where they belong. Loud and center stage. Both guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney know this fact. They came out and made no mistake, leading with Brothers’ “Howlin’ For You” instantly getting the crowd into a frenzy.

They continued with their supporting cast that helped make the new album El Camino, the fullest and most polished of their seven studio productions. But as they left the stage the Keys did something of an unexpected move when they went back to material from the early days of the band. They played the title track of their 2003 album Thickfreakness and “Girl is on my Mind” from their 2004 album Rubber Factory. Then into “Your Touch” from 2006’s Magic Potion and finally came back to their newest material.

They engaged the crowd, not in conversation or meaningless chit-chat, but spoke through claps and foot stomps, the universal language for anyone who adores rock and roll. They ended their set with a brilliant duo of “Tighten Up” and “Lonely Boy.”

After they left the stage and the lights fell dim, the crowd erupted to its loudest levels of the night. Begging for an encore and did we get it! In the dark two gigantic disco balls dropped from the ceiling and began spinning. The lights were turned back on and, no, it was no disco. Hearing them go through “Everlasting Light” with the entire arena awestruck at the genius of such a pun.

They ended their hour and a half show with “I Got Mine” and an illuminated sign:

The Black Keys

Rock. Stars.

The lights came back up, the crowd chanted and cheered for them, nobody rushed out Madison Square Garden, everyone lingered, buzzing about what might’ve been the greatest 90 minutes of music their ears have ever endured.

30
Jan
12

Marilyn Manson “Born Villain”

I’m not a Marilyn Manson hater. I believe that he… she?… came along at just the right time in American social strife. He was weird, he was the next evolution of shock-rock. Nobody understood where he was coming from with his songs and his look. He freaked the hell out of Republicans and he freaked the hell out of Democrats. He was an unknown quantity that was only labeled as one thing: a freak. He was the perfect scape goat for a tragedy he had nothing to do with and he has seemingly faded to his rightful place in the memory of Columbine.

But now he’s back with this new album and I have to say. I am not impressed. His earlier stuff was listenable. The albums Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals were iconic, from the songs to the album covers. Which riled everyone’s mother up. He disputed god, he hated religion, he hated the establishment, he was everything teens wanted to hear because let’s face it, as a teenage boy, you’re angry at everything.

He pandered to his crowd, shifting to a message of rebelliousness and how hard it is to be a teen. How people seem to look down on you for your age. How nobody stops to try to understand you and you feel like you’re living in a hell of eternally having to flip burgers.

We related to that as teenagers.

and latex, we all relate to latex

But he doesn’t have much of a crutch to stand on now. He didn’t take the quick and easy route (as did one, Skrillex) by switching his musical style to the fad of the generation.

I’m just not impressed by this. It’s all about self deprivation and abuse. It’s about things that a guy who’s sold well over 5 million albums in the United States alone has no right to be talking about. You wonder why nobody knows or cares what happened to Good Charlotte? Because 1) they were terrible and 2) their credibility went out the door when they became millionaires. That’s what tends to happen with these sorts of bands and male divas. They’re only sustainable for a couple of albums before their popularity and wealth spoil the message. They’re no longer in touch with the audience that received them so well.
I don’t mean to preach, but Manson should know that he’s not creating any new fans with the new album. He’s not even retaining old ones with it. Just take your show on the road and keep playing the life out of “Personal Jesus” and “Rock is Dead.”
You were a martyr for the late 90s. The shift that seemed to come too swift with that Colorado high school. You were the sign that the media has become too big and overbearing on our lives. That politicians were morons for blaming you. You were the only positive thing to come out of that whole story, stop trying to live up to it with titles like Born Villain and be just that. You’re too self aware and it bores me now.

2/5

10
Jan
12

New Van Halen Song is Van Failin’

Sometimes bands just can’t take a hint, or see the signs. Van Halen should have stopped trying years ago, after Sammy Hagar left. After that stinker of an album with the singer from Extreme, Gary whats-his-face, and then two failed reunions with original wailer David Lee Roth, perhaps the Van Halen brothers Eddie and Alex should have just quit music, or at least looked for new projects to do. Instead, lots of money has been squandered on now a third reunion with Roth, which will include a new album and a tour. The first single off the album has just been released, and as you might expect, it sucks. I mean, it’s just bad. The music is fine, but offers nothing new or interesting – it’s the recycled Van Halen sound from 30 years ago. The lyrics are so very stupid, and while Roth can still hit some higher notes, he seems rooted in the lower octaves – it would be wrong to hope his voice could still be that dynamic after so many years, but as I heard one person comment, “When did Huey Lewis become the singer for Van Halen?”

You can of course judge for yourself – the video is below. But even for die-hard VH fans who believe that the only REAL Van Halen is one with Roth, this has to be very disappointing. Enjoy.

Van Halen – Tattoo from Van Halen on Vimeo.

14
Dec
11

Chevelle “Hats Off to the Bull”

It’s been a long time since Chevelle has been a radio presence. Their second album Wonder What’s Next went platinum thanks to tracks like “The Red” “Send the Pain Below” and “Closure.”

But that was 2002. What have they done since then? Well, the next album, released in 2004, was This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In) It another success thanks to singles like “The Clincher” “Get Some” and “Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)”

Since then they’ve started to wane in popularity despite another solid album with Vena Sera and songs “I Get It” and “Well Enough Alone.” The 2009 album Sci-Fi Crimes did well on the Billboard charts, but received relatively little radio play and didn’t strike the same notes that their previous three albums did. With last week’s release of Hats Off they’re back to what they do best:

being gritty, melodic, and harmonious. Their sound is tough to replicate because they don’t have the typical hard rock formula of the band cutting away for the verse vocals. They keep playing straight through and leave it up to front-man Pete Loeffler to sing over it. The short guitar strokes and driving, deep bass keep songs dark and powerful. The drums don’t do anything more than what they have to: deliver a beat for the rest of the band to brood to.

Overall, tracks like “Face to the Floor” and “The Meddler” bring back the nostalgia and attitude of the previous Chevelle records that put them on the map. But there are a couple tracks that I would call “experimental” for them. “Piñata” and “Prima Donna” are cool for their uniqueness in sound. Great changes of pacing with both.

“Piñata” sounds like they borrowed the intro from “Flight of the Bumblebee” and slows into the verse. They sound like they took inspiration from the now defunct band System of a Down for this song. With Loeffler’s vocals resembling that of Serj Tankian. Much harder on the guitar solos and I like it. It fades in and out of chaotic arpeggios and the smoothness of the drum and bass locked into just a repetitive and cool beat.

The very next song “Envy” has this exceedingly slow build. Very dark and quiet. It builds for a very long time before it hits the chorus where the band returns to the type of music we’re used to hearing from them. It’s still a smidgen slower than what they normally play. It’s built on a silence and the quietness of the guitar, but still comes at you with a menacing bass line. This may be my favorite song on the album, it’s kind of the anti-ballad, while still being a ballad.

Strangely, I think the album’s title track may be one of the least likeable on the album. It just doesn’t seem to fit. It sound like they tried to incorporate some Rage Against the Machine into their own sound and it misses the mark for me. There’s nothing remotely resembling anything that they’ve done before. No bonus points earned here. Though they fire right back with the song “Revenge” two tracks later. This may be the next single off the album. They use a distortion pedal on bass and some hard echo/reverb for the guitar. It adds an element they haven’t had before, and with today’s progressive push towards electro music, it’ll fit well on today’s airwaves.

“Prima Donna” is an acoustic song that really surprises with how well it works considering it’s a venture that Chevelle hasn’t toyed with before. It’s taken me a few listens to even accept this sort of idea from them. But, like the rest of the album, they make it work and it grows on you the more you listen to it.

The album then immediately picks back up with the closing song “Clones” that really has movie soundtrack written all over it… which is appropriate considering they wrote a song for the movie Underworld 4.

Overall, this album is a return to the likeness of their two most successful albums. I can see another single or two coming off this album and becoming remotely successful in today’s digital landscape. I hope it brings them back into the spotlight and they get to tour with some acts that will be worth Ticketmaster’s raping prices (a story for another day!)

 

4/5




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