Ska Friday: Less Than Jake – Hello Rockview

Less Than Jake – Hello Rockview

Tracklist

  1. “Last One out of Liberty City” – 2:01
  2. “Help Save the Youth of America from Exploding” – 2:53
  3. “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” – 3:31
  4. “Five State Drive” – 2:48
  5. “Nervous in the Alley” – 2:54
  6. “Motto” – 3:14
  7. “History of a Boring Town” – 3:22
  8. “Great American Sharpshooter” – 1:28
  9. “Danny Says” – 2:51
  10. “Big Crash” – 2:43
  11. “Theme Song for H Street” – 2:43
  12. “Richard Allen George… No, It’s Just Cheez” – 1:46
  13. “Scott Farcas Takes It on the Chin” – 2:34
  14. “Al’s War” – 3:04

About the Album

Well we have come to the end of this project. Day 40. Finally made it. Today’s album is the third studio release from ska band, Less Than Jake… Hello Rockview. Released in October of 1998, Hello Rockview hit number 80 on the Billboard charts.

Thoughts on the Album

Horns? Check. Saxophone? Check. Guitars, bass, and drums? Check, check, and check. Want an album to mosh to or just jam out to? Hello Rockview is it. I have to admit, this album is probably the most fun to listen to. I should explain that… not only are the songs great and catchy, but because of the lyrics book that comes with the album. On the inside there is a comic which shows all the lyrics in it, and it tells a story.

The album opener, “Last One Out of Liberty City” kicks off the record with a high-pitched squeal, and from there on kicks it into fourth gear. As one of the faster paced songs on Hello Rockview, “Last One Out Of Liberty City” definitely opens Hello Rockview on a high note. The bass line is a killer one. “Last One Out of Liberty City” sets the tone for the rest of the album easily.

The opener then leads directly in “Help Save The Youth Of America” which opens with begins with distorted acoustic sounding guitar introducing the vocals. “Help Save The Youth Of America” has an incredible melody and rhythm to it. However, what sets this song apart from others on the album, is the electric feel. The energy from the song is off the charts… probably able to power a small city or three. The chorus is also quite awesome too.

Third song, and probably the most popular song, “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” opens with some spoken word before jumping right into a bouncy guitar riff. Noticeable on this track is presence of keys. Featured on a Tony Hawk Pro Skater game (I believe THPS 4), “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” is that one song that everyone sings along to. It is a very happy song with superb brass support. While does get a wee bit repetitive after multiple listens, it definitely holds up.

Track 7, “History of a Boring Town” is another one of the excellent songs from Hello Rockview. “History of a Boring Town” comes out swinging with some jangly guitar riffs and spunky bass lines. It has an excellent pace and beat to it, and the chorus is untouchable. While it sounds a wee bit more “pop” than most of the songs, it still holds steady.

Conclusion

With some damn catchy hooks, riffs, and lyrics, Hello Rockview is definitely a must own. Need an album that will get you dancing around and maybe even make you crack a smile? Less Than Jake’s Hello Rockview, is definitely for you. Some bands naturally have the ability to put smiles on faces. Less Than Jake is one of those bands… and with some upbeat ska beats, rightly so. We are closing this project out with a face paced bang.

I mean seriously, what’s not to like about the sound of fast paced guitars and brass?

Traditional Oriental plus Western Rock equals One Hell of an Official Soundtrack

MASA – Dynasty Warriors 4 Official Soundtrack 

About the album

The second to last day of this project features another official soundtrack from a video game. Known in the West as Dynasty Warriors 4, and in the East as Shin Sangoku Musou 3, this is the official soundtrack or OST for it. Featuring over 40+ tracks, the OST for Dynasty Warriors 4 incorporates western guitar driven rock and roll style with a fusion of oriental and Chinese undertones. The album was produced by skilled guitarist and Japanese music composer, MASA or Sasaki Masayoshi.  All of the tracks are instrumentals.

Thoughts on the the album

Outside of Ace Combat 5 and Zero, Dynasty Warriors 4 has always been my second favorite OST. The styling of the songs is an eclectic mix of rock, metal, hard rock smattered with traditional Chinese music. Highlighted below are just some of the tracks you’ll hear…

For example, the track titled “Avenging Battle” which is heard in game during the “Battle of Yi Ling”, opens with rolling drums before power chords of guitar come crashing in. Over top of the guitar chord and rolling drums is the sound of trumpet fanfare. This opening builds up into crescendo until the guitar riffs give way to traditional Chinese flute. The flute adds a nice and rather delicate touch. The flute gives way into the chorus of guitar and rolling drums until the flute bridge returns and gives way to a fiery guitar solo.

Another track, such as “In Full Bloom” which is heard in game during the “Battle of Guan Du” opens with little drums before bass and guitar chords sound off one at a time. This builds up into this mellow guitar riff driven track.

The track titled “Eve” is heard throughout gameplay whenever the main player is facing defeat, hence it is known by another name, “Routed”. The track opens with a rapid fire guitar riffs from 2 guitars and another guitar playing just a lone chord along with the bass sounding off. Another track where the energy builds up this time into a synth fused pattern before giving way to the Chinese flute.

Probably the track on this OST that sticks out the most is called “Look Back On Your Way”, the track that plays during the ending that details how you beat the campaign or “Musou” mode. The track goes heavy with the Chinese influences… opening with sound of a gong and flute over top of a guitar riff. The gong is throughout the track and the flute returns at the end of the track to cap it off.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t talk about the two “themes” on the OST. By “theme” I mean, it’s the song that plays throughout that character or army’s campaign. For example, there is the “Theme of Lu Bu -DW Fire Mix-“, which for obviously is heard in game during which this evil badass guy, supercharged character, named Lu Bu appears. I mean evil super villain needs his own theme track, right? Lu Bu’s Theme opens with a guitar slide before charging in with guitar riffs ablaze. The track itself is a pseudo-remix of the opening title track. There is also the “Theme of the Nanman” or otherwise known on the OST as “The Seventh Hardship”. This track can he heard during the “Nanman Campaign” battles. This track features the most Chinese influence.

Conclusion

The producer, MASA, does a hell of a job conveying the emotion throughout the OST and the tracks that can be during battles. From upbeat tracks like “Gaining Ground” and “Parade of Death” to grind it out tracks like “Straight Ahead” to the volatile and more “secretive” tracks like “Interceptor”, “The Wall of Fate”, and “Run Run Run” the OST provides everything you’re looking for in a soundtrack. It has emotion, energy, an excellent fusion of to different cultures of music, and a more diversified sound. Don’t be so quick to judge video game music before you listen to it.

Hurricane Bar? Mando Diao – Hurricane Bar

Hurricane Bar – Mando Diao

Tracklist

  1. “Cut the Rope” 1:51
  2. “God Knows” 3:52
  3. “Clean Town” 3:43
  4. “Down in the Past” 3:58
  5. “You Can’t Steal My Love” 5:30
  6. “Added Family” 4:18
  7. “Annie’s Angle” 3:04
  8. “If I Leave You” 2:53
  9. “Ringing Bells” 2:36
  10. “This Dream Is Over” 3:24
  11. “White Wall” 3:51
  12. “All My Senses” 4:13
  13. “Kingdom & Glory” 4:16
  14. “Next to Be Lowered” 3:45

About the album

Hurricane Bar, is the second studio release from Swedish quintet, Mando Diao. Released in 2004 in Sweden (2005 worldwide), this is the album that helped make the band known outside of Sweden.

Thoughts on the album

Personally, Hurricane Bar is my favorite Mando Diao album. While it’s not quite as commercial as Ode to Ochrasy or not quite as rough, raw, and edgy as Bring ‘Em In, it still holds up. What is present throughout the album, is a collection of punchy, infectious hooks, and ambitious choruses, that make up a selection of fourteen melodic should-be anthems.

Here’s the thing about Mando Diao… critics claim they sound too much like other bands from Sweden and sound too much like a pop band to be a “hard rock” or even “punk rock”. Well to that effect I say…

the Swedes play pop rock with Clash punk intensity and seemingly wild reckless abandonment. The songs are incredibly melodic and accessible rock songs like bands have been doing since the Beatles. However, Mando Diao slams through those pop rock songs like a hurricane slamming through a coastal town. For example: “Cut the Rope” and “Clean Town” feature Clash-like gang vocals, shouted like a band from a warehouse district who is used to playing gig beneath the train tracks.

And The Clash is just the beginning of the sound. “God Knows” gets bluesy in the style of Oasis, the almost quintessential English/Brit Rock way. The blues punk sound also shows up in “The Dream is Over.” A wee bit of The Kinks are also lurking here, in the slacker blues of “Added Family,” which includes some pseudo-American 60’s rock “whoo” vocals.

“Kingdom & Glory” has a guitar line that is very similar to the Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry,” but the gang vocals on the chorus could also be Monkees-inspired. It could only be Mando Diao that could combine those sounds, bringing out the punk lines from the original goths and Neil Diamond in the same song.

Following the punk intensity through these many forms makes Hurricane Bar a truly exciting album. Lead single, “Down in the Past” captures this intensity of Hurricane Bar. The urgent guitars of Norén and Dixgård on the chorus give way to drum and bass on the verses. There’s a hint of classic rock in the guitars, with a punch-a-fist tempo, and melodic punk to top it all off. With all of that, Mando Diao should conquer the world.

Hurricane Bar rocks like stereotypical garage rock but on steroids. However, there are moments of genuine diversity that proves the Swedes to be more than a one trick pony. Going back to “Added Family,” it is a moody tune that suggests vintage Robyn Hitchcock. While the track “All My Senses” features an organ break that makes nice reference to the Doors’ “Light My Fire”. There’s even a charming acoustic tune called `Ringing Bells” which helps to pace the record quite nicely.

Conclusion

If I were to rank Mando Diao’s (English) albums, it would go: 1) Ode to Ochrasy 2) Hurricane Bar. Why? The five Swedes combine everything that was good with their first release, Bring ‘Em In, with smoother, foot tapping sound with Hurricane Bar. The album provides a youthful like energy with slightly naive but also self-aware sound. Definitely an improvement over Bring ‘Em In. As I should be saying with each album… words just don’t do it justice; you need to listen for yourself to get the full experience.

London’s Calling… The Clash – London Calling

London’s Calling: The Clash – London Calling

Tracklist

  1. London Calling
  2. Brand New Cadillac
  3. Jimmy Jazz
  4. Hateful
  5. Rudie Can’t Fail
  6. Spanish Bombs
  7. The Right Profile
  8. Lost In The Supermarket
  9. Clampdown
  10. The Guns of Brixton
  11. Wrong ’em Boyo
  12. Death Or Glory
  13. Koka Kola
  14. The Card Cheat
  15. Lover’s Rock
  16. Four Horsemen
  17. I’m Not Down
  18. Revolution Rock
  19. Train In Vain

About the album

Released on December 14th 1979 in the United Kingdom, British punk rock band The Clash, took the world by storm with their third studio album, London CallingLondon Calling fuses many elements and genres of music: ska, reggae, punk, soul, jazz, rockabilly, and funk among other genres. London Calling is considered to be one of the (500) greatest albums ever by Rolling Stone Magazine. 

Thoughts on the album

The Clash closed out the 1970’s and the end of the disco era with a bang. A BIG bang. Their third studio release, London Calling is… simply put one of the all-time greats and still sounds just as fresh, invigorating and powerful now as the day it was released. London Calling served as one of the most convincing examples of just how far punk rock could be stretched. Its creators pushing the boundaries of their once straight forward rock sound into realms few other punk bands have managed.

Don’t be mistaken, London Calling is a punk album and The Clash are a punk band. London Calling proved that its not punk music in the sense of 3 chords, dumb, 2 minute riff rock. No. Punk in the sense that it has that fiery spirit undercutting each track and through their adaptation of foreign musical styles; making the sound become more political and revolutionary than any punk band before them.

There is a virtually iconic song every other track or so. For example, London Calling opens with the the nightmarish, post-apocalyptic tension title track. Featuring tight, punchy guitars and rolling bass lines that are grounded by Joe Strummer’s apocalypse-fearing lyrics. The band proves it can rock with roaring, politically charged “Clampdown,” which immediately followed up by the dark reggae-infused sound of “Guns of Brixton”. “Guns of Brixton” has a sense of urgency and suffocated anger.

Conclusion

It’s hard to compare London Calling to some other record by some other band, simply because it just does not sound like anything else heard before or after it. Listening to this album is like riding a rollercoaster: it is thrilling and extremely exciting.

I could go through every song, song by song, explaining how each one is great. I won’t do that. I’ll let you the reader decide that for yourselves. With an album like London Calling, one needs to experience it themselves.

Would you like to know something even more impressive about this album? The way London Calling coheres as a whole: no other double album in the history of music is able cover the musical range exhibited on this one, all whilst retaining a unified feel quite the way London Calling does.

London Calling is not only revolutionary in the sense that it revolutionized punk and other genres and subgenres of rock, it’s revolutionary in the sense that it not only defines a band, but the sound. London Calling closed out the 1970’s with a thunderous bang. The double album is truly a one of kind masterpiece that everyone should listen to and own. I could continue to heap praise and superlatives onto this album, but I won’t. I’ll let you decide for yourselves if it deserves the praise.

This is a post about The Black Keys. The name of this post is: The Black Keys – Brothers

The Black Keys – Brothers

Tracklist

  1. Everlasting Light
  2. Next Girl
  3. Tighten Up
  4. Howlin’ for You
  5. She’s Long Gone
  6. Black Mud
  7. The Only One
  8. Too Afraid to Love You
  9. Ten Cent Pistol
  10. Sinister Kid
  11. The Go Getter
  12. I’m Not The One
  13. Unknown Brother
  14. Never Gonna Give You Up
  15. These Days

About the album

Brothers, is the sixth studio release from American rock duo, The Black Keys. Released in May 2010, Brothers made The Black Keys household names in music… as it was the duo’s commercial breakthrough. Brothers peaked at number three on the Billboard 200. The album won three Grammy Awards in 2011 for “Best Alternative Music Album”. Brothers, has been certified platinum.

Thoughts on the album

The problem with being a duo, is that you get compared to other notable duos who have achieved the most success int he mainstream. Hence why The Black Keys get compared to The White Stripes.

There is never a dull moment on Brothers and if you are looking for gritty, bluesy, rock… then look no further. Brothers features some of the most superb and bluesy arrangements/productions executed by the band. Brothers opens with “Everlasting Light” which finds Auerbach singing falsetto over a heavily fuzzed guitar and a repetitive, but forceful drum beat.

The follow-up to the opener, “Next Girl”, is a bombastic tune featuring alluring, and superb songwriting. It has a simple, yet enjoyable hook: “my next girl/will be nothing like my ex-girl/I made mistakes back then/I’ll never do it again.” The pacing of “Next Girl” is excellent, as the duo recognize the need for space in a song.

The first sing from Brothers, “Tighten Up”, features some of the most fantastic drum work I have ever heard. The song is a smooth toe-tapper, featuring futuristic guitar riffs and well developed and standout groove. The duo even dabble with a little bit of organ in “Tighten Up” adding that epic feel to it.

“Howlin’ For You” keeps up the pace with a drum groove that works great here. Only could argue that the drum groove here is in the same lane as the one from “Rock and Roll (part 2)”. Of course, the use of keyboards here add even more to the consummate musicianship of The Black Keys. “Howlin’ for You” sounds like a throwback to different era of rock… it has a vintage guitar and bass riff/sound.

Can there be too much of a good thing? If so, then Brothers is a prime example of having too much of good having. The record clocks in at 15 tracks and 55 minutes, and as much as I hate to say it, the length definitely bogs down the quality. If they would have trimmed a wee bit of fat from the album… it would be damn near perfect.

Conclusion

The vintage R&B and soul sound work wonders for The Black Keys. The variety between tempos, melodies, and genres will keep you coming back to this record. While at 15 tracks the album overstays it’s welcome, Brothers does stay with you. Featuring refined songwriting, some monster hooks, and a growing grab bag of influences than any one classic sound, Brothers has something to please everyone. As the album cover plain states… this is an album by The Black Keys. The name of this album is Brothers. Absolutely magnificent.

Foo Fighters Friday! Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Foo Fighters Friday: Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Tracklist

  1. Bridge Burning
  2. Rope
  3. Dear Rosemary
  4. White Limo
  5. Arlandria
  6. These Days
  7. Back Forth
  8. A Matter Of Time
  9. Miss The Misery
  10. I Should Have Known
  11. Walk

About The Album

Wasting Light is the seventh studio album from American alternative rock band, the Foo Fighters. Released in April of 2011, the album features analog recording to recapture the band’s earlier sound from previous releases. Wasting Light debuted at number one on the United States charts, and several other countries worldwide.

Thoughts on the album

With Wasting Light, we get perhaps the most purely rock and roll record from Dave Grohl and Co. The album was recorded in Grohl’s garage, using only analog equipment until post-mastering, the Foos made an album that is a lot more rawer and crunchier sounding than their more recent work. I’ll say this: it is rare gem of brilliance compared to the rest of music today. Wasting Light definitely overshadows their previous release, Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace.

Wasting Light opens with the blistering and intense, “Bridge Burning”. The guitar and pounding drum fills rock listeners down to their core right from the outset and the verses are rhythmic, perfectly setting up a grand slam of a chorus that exemplifies everything anybody should like about this band.

First single and second track, “Rope”, features equal parts aggression and rhythm. “Rope” also highlights the old school Foo Fighters hooks and harmonies. With Hawkins’ drums and Grohl’s harmonies with overdriven 90’s alternative guitars make for one of the catchier tracks on the record. The prominent guitar riff that is heard sounds great no matter how you hear it; whether it is from a grainy FM signal in your car to those ugly looking, acoustically balanced “Beats By Dre” headphones.

Other highlights: “These Days” features a more heavier sound but Grohl’s lyrics and songwriter just suck you in. Definitely one of the more stronger tracks on Wasting Light. Despite being more polished and sounding closer to more recent Foo Fighters tracks, the heavy bridge and chorus make this track one of the more memorable ones.

“I Should Have Known” features guest bassist and Grohl’s former band mate in NirvanaKrist Novoselic. The track is the slowest one on the album, but the lyrics and bass line surely make up for it.

“Walk” closes it out. The closer sounds like a true arena filling anthem. The build up to its climax is infectious in the same way as “Arlandria”, the chorus doesn’t quite have the same impact. But nevertheless a very fitting ending to a superb album.

Conclusion

To anyone who says this album has flaws, of course it does… all albums do. But Wasting Light‘s flaws are essential to its being. Of course Wasting Light is far from perfect too. Wasting Light surely surpasses Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace and ranks up there among the better Foo Fighters releases. And sure, the sound is still as mainstream as ever… but of course it should be no new news to anyone. Wasting Light is arguably the band’s best work since The Colour and The Shape.

Rock en Español: Héroes del Silencio – Avalancha

Rock en Español:  Héroes del Silencio – Avalancha

Tracklist

  1. “Derivas”
  2. “¡Rueda, Fortuna!”
  3. “Deshacer el Mundo”
  4. “Iberia Sumergida”
  5. “Avalancha” 
  6. “En Brazos de la Fiebre”
  7. “Parasiempre” 
  8. “La Chispa Adecuada (Bendecida III)” 
  9. “Días de Borrasca (Víspera de Resplandores)” 
  10. “Morir Todavía”
  11. “Opio”
  12. “La Espuma de Venus”

About the album

Avalancha is the fourth and final studio album of Spanish rock band, Héroes del Silencio. Released in 1995, Avalancha is considered a turning point for the “Rock en Español” movement and is considered to be classic in this genre.

Thoughts on the album

Our European Spring break road trip continues, with a trip down to Zaragoza, Aragón, Spain. Today’s album is from Spanish rock band, Héroes del Silencio, and is their fourth and final album, Avalancha.

Before we begin, yes the entire album is in Spanish. It is of the genre “Rock en Español” or essentially, Spanish-language rock music. That said, Avalancha was produced by famed producer, Bob Ezrin. There is one thing to note about this album… the production. The production of Avalancha is excellent. In order to succeed in the Rock en Español genre, you are going to need excellent production. That’s what this album has.

Ezrin’s production of Avalancha allows the instruments and vocals to breathe and not be clustered and congested. For example, the urban voices and setting in the intro “Derivas, the Harmonica in “Iberia Sumergida, and the distorted vocals and chanting on some of the tracks (i.e. “Deshacer el Mundo“, “Parasiempre”, “Días de Borrasca”). These are just few examples of many of details you’re going to take in and enjoy throughout the album.

I can’t forget about the instrumentation now can I? Of course not. The instrumentation on Avalancha is crisp, sharp, and chock full of life. From the warming bass and drum sound on tracks like “Morir Todavia,” and “Opio” to the lively and cutting guitar on the rock-a-Billy like songs “Rueda Fortuna,” and “Parasiempre”. Of course, that not the only sound the album brings to the table, there are more quiet, alluring, and smoother acoustic songs like “En Brazos de la Fiebre,” “Opio,” and “La Chispa Adecuada”. The varied sound assures you that you will never get bored with the album.

The guitar riffs, are far from original… I’ll admit that. But they are diverse enough and well executed (with a ton of perfectly placed and executed distortion and effects). The bass lines have their own presence and take on a life on their own to make a solid backbone together with the drums, that have seemingly simple but enchanting placement in all the parts of the record.

Conclusion

Putting aside the fact that Spanish is not my primary language (English is), this is a damn good record.Almost everything about Avalancha is flawless. The excellent instrumentation, perfect use of effects and distortions, the perfect production, the lack of filler will amaze you. Definitely a must listen to.