Year 2, Day 40: The Finale… Never Seen the Light of Day

Year 2, Album 40: Mando Diao – Never Seen the Light of Day

Tracklisting

  1. If I Don’t Live Today, Then I Might Be Here Tomorrow
  2. Never Seen the Light of Day
  3. Gold
  4. I Don’t Care What the People Say
  5. Mexican Hardcore
  6. Macadam Cowboy
  7. Train on Fire
  8. Not a Perfect Day
  9. Misty Mountains
  10. One Blood
  11. Dalarna

About the Album

Never Seen the Light of Day is the fourth studio album from Swedish rockers, Mando Diao. The album was recorded in 2007 while the band was on an exhausting tour of the world. Released on October 22 2007, the album was produced and recorded independently in a small studio with producer, Björn Olsson. At odds with their management and tired of the tediousness of the studios, the album was titled Never Seen the Light of Day due to the fact the band was afraid that the album might not be released, thus never see the light of day.

Thoughts on the Album

So here we arrive at day 40, the final day of the project for year 2. We traveled the world through musicians, artists, bands, and music. Year 2’s final (and today’s) album is from Swedish rock band, Mando Diao. It is their fourth studio effort, Never Seen the Light of Day, aptly named for the fear that the album might not have seen the light of day after growing dissatisfaction with their label and management. As with all Mando Diao albums, their style is their own unique sound; and this album, like the albums preceding it and succeeding it, don’t sound the same.

So what does this album do differently from other Mando Diao albums? Almost everything. The songs are calmer and more sensitive (if you could call it that) compared to the other songs in the band’s repertoire. The album, was produced by Björn Olsson, who is famed for Union Carbide Productions and The Soundtrack of Our Lives among other projects. One who is familiar with Olsson’s work can definitely tell from hearing the songs that he left his imprint on them.

The album is calmer, focusing more on acoustic guitar and orchestration. However tracks like the epinonymous Never Seen the Light of DayTrain on Fire, and One Blood incorporate the Swedes’ plugged-in and full garage rock electric guitar driven songs. The songs on this album, produced by Olsson, had a mix of rock, folk, country/western, string arrangements, and choirs.

Olsson’s production of the album suits the band incredibly well; excellently. The string arrangements found throughout the album shine brightest on the album opener, If I Don’t Live Today, Then I Might Be Here Tomorrow. The dual acoustic guitar riffs of frontmen Gustaf Norén and Björn Dixgård are crisp and sharp. The string arrangements are a perfect fit on this track. The following track, the titled track, Never Seen the Light of Day is a beautiful number mixing acoustic guitar from Norén, electric guitar from Dixgård combined with Olsson’s trademark string arrangements.

My personal favorite off this album is the aggressive and furiously paced, Train on Fire. It combines the Olsson strings with acoustic and electric guitar riffs from Norén and Dixgård. Also, the keyboard work on this track by Mats Björke is bar down, his best work.

Quick hits: tracks like If I Don’t Live Today, Then I Might Be Here Tomorrow and Mexican Hardcore have an American Southwest feel to them, with steel guitar and mariachi strings on Mexican HardcoreMisty Mountains and Gold are upbeat and uptempo filled vocal harmonies. One Blood, is a probably the heaviest song on the album outside of Train on Fire. One Blood, is supposedly about how tightly knit the band is. But I guess it can be construed many different ways. The album closes with the over seven and a half (seven minutes, thirty-four second) minute instrumental, Dalarna.

Conclusion

What a way to conclude year two, eh? This album is (one of) the reason(s) why I love this band. Their sound is ever changing as not become cookie-cutter, stagnant, or dull. That’s what separates this band from others; that’s the true Mando Diao sound. Never Seen the Light of Day provides a subtle and understated sound that doesn’t lose it’s focus or the band’s heart, soul, or spirit. And that my friends, is what music is all about. I hope you enjoyed this year’s project. Stay tuned for year three!

Year 2, Day 39: Cruising around in an El Camino.

Year 2, Album 39: The Black Keys – El Camino

Tracklisting

  1. Lonely Boy
  2. Dead and Gone
  3. Gold on the Ceiling
  4. Little Black Submarines
  5. Money Maker
  6. Run Right Back
  7. Sister
  8. Hell of a Season
  9. Stop Stop
  10. Nova Baby
  11. Mind Eraser

About the Album

El Camino is the seventh studio album from American rock duo, The Black Keys. Released on December 6 2011 as a follow-up to the massively successful Brothers (click here to read about this album!), El Camino was also massively successful, selling 206,000+ copies it’s first week and debuting at number two on the Billboard 200. The album also was nominated for a Grammy Award and won one in the category for Best Rock Album. The album is certified platinum in the United States of America by the RIAA, and as well in other countries.

Thoughts on the Album

Well here we are, down to our last two albums. I’m going to miss writing about my favorite albums. But I digress, we can save the sappiness for tomorrow. Today’s post is about the wildly and massively successful follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2010 album, Brothers, by The Black KeysEl Camino by The Black Keys was just as wildly and massively successful and as critically acclaimed as the previous release, if not more. The album builds on the success of Brothers.

The album starts off the with the massively catchy and popular single (and opener), Lonely Boy. The track features a fuzzed out guitar riff and a romping drum line, all which buttress a chorus that is absolutely raw and primal in its catchiness. A little bit more pop than Tighten Up off the previous release, Lonely Boy builds on that formula.

Throughout the album the influences and styles change, but the one thing that remains the same and dominates is The Black Keys’ personality. For example, the second track, Dead and Gone features what I could only describe as “sunny harmonizing” and 1960’s California surf rock. Sister, brings to the album power pop with Cheap Trick-esque finesse and style. Gold on the Ceiling, brings to the plate fist pumping rock, and quintessential Black Keys sound. It’s a raw, blue collar, workmanlike guitar rock that throws vicious melodic haymakers and punches.

Conclusion

39 up, 39 down, one to go. El Camino is a great album, worthy of the success it garnered. The album builds off the previous success of it’s 2010 predecessor. It is definitely worth your money and time to listen to it. Go get yourself a copy and enjoy!

Year 2, Day 38: Dead Silence… not on this blog!

Year 2, Album 38: Billy Talent – Dead Silence

Tracklisting

  1. Lonely Road to Absolution
  2. Viking Dead March
  3. Surprise, Surprise
  4. Runnin’ Across the Tracks
  5. Love Was Still Around
  6. Stand Up and Run
  7. Crooked Minds
  8. Man Alive!
  9. Hanging By a Thread
  10. Cure for the Enemy
  11. Don’t Count on the Wicked
  12. Show Me the Way
  13. Swallowed Up by the Ocean
  14. Dead Silence

About the Album

Dead Silence is the fourth studio album from Canadian punk band, Billy Talent. The album was released on September 11 2012. Dead Silence also makes a change in style and progression different from that of the band’s third album, Billy Talent III

Thoughts on the Album

We here we arrive at day 38 of year two; we are down to our final three albums (two not including today). Believe it or not, it’s actually tough deciding which album to choose, because there is so many good albums I own. So with that preface, today’s album is another goodie from up north of the border in Canada. Billy Talent will always have a special place in heart, much like Mando Diao and the Donots do. Today’s album is none other than Billy Talent‘s fourth studio album, Dead Silence

The album opens with the chilling track, Lonely Road to Absolution. This is an outsanding way to open an album. Personally, how I feel about an album hinges on the opener/intro track. A good intro track always gets understated and under looked by most bands. Why it’s outstanding, is because of the seamless transition into the lead single and second track, Viking Death March.

Viking Death March is a hard hitting track which further sets the tone and mood of the album. The song has the class Billy Talent sound that many have come to expect: guitarist Ian D’sa’s unmistakable octave finger stretching riff work, bassist Jon Gallant’s powerful bass lines. D’sa adds another element to the chorus of Viking Death March with his backing vocals.

The album then leads into the third track, and second lead single, Surprise, Surprise. The sound of the song is something similar to their debut album, Billy Talent I. Heavy intro guitar riffs, followed by lighter verse riffs, and an aggressive delivery of the vocals. The lyrics are very satirical and tongue-in-cheek.

The sixth track, Stand Up and Run, is not song or sound that you would expect from this band. It’s light, power ballad(ish) song that would seem to fit better on Billy Talent II. It’s a nice change of style and pace to mix in with the hard rocking tracks before it. It definitely keeps the pallet fresh while listening.

My personal favorite track from the album is the lucky number thirteenth track, Swallowed Up by the Ocean. It’s an incredible, beautiful, and emotional track. It’s one of the songs found on this album that perfectly showcases the new sound. What is weird is that it is the first Billy Talent song to feature piano as the main instrument. Why I love this song is because of it’s progression. It starts out all mellow and light, catching you by surprise, before gradually building into an epic piece of music.

The album closes with the fourteenth and titled track, Dead Silence. If Lonely Road to Absolution was the perfect opener, Dead Silence is the perfect way to close. It puts a succinct and poignant exclamation point on the end of the album. The song begins with a Billy Talent I style of rhythm/lead guitar riff before the rolling drums kick in. The ending is incredible, with Ben Kowalewicz repeating the lines “Dead silence/When violence” on a slow fade out with Ian D’sa kicking in on backing vocals as well.

Conclusion

Dead Silence is a step up from Billy Talent‘s third album. It incorporates style and sound from almost every era of Billy Talent, as well as some new sound and style. It has something for everyone. Definitely listen to Viking Death March, Surprise Surprise, Stand Up and Run, Swallowed Up by the Ocean, and Dead Silence.

Year 2, Day 37: Combat Rock

Year 2, Album 37: The Clash – Combat Rock

Tracklisting

  1. Know Your Rights
  2. Car Jamming
  3. Should I Stay or Should I Go
  4. Rock the Casbah
  5. Red Angel Dragnet
  6. Straight to Hell
  7. Overpowered by Funk
  8. Atom Tan
  9. Sean Flynn
  10. Ghetto Defendant
  11. Inoculated City
  12. Death is a Star

About the Album

Combat Rock is the fifth studio album from English punk band, The Clash. The album was released May 14 1982 and was a massive commercial success. The album charted at number 2 on the United Kingdom spending 23 weeks in the UK Charts. While in the United States, the album peaked at number 7, and spent 61 weeks on the chart. The album is certified double platinum in the United States.

Thoughts on the Album

So we are down to our last three (four if you include this one) albums! Today’s post is all about The Clash‘s Combat Rock. If you remember from last year, I reviewed their album, London Calling (click here to read about it!). In my opinion, while a lot stronger than their double album release Sandinista!Combat Rock is not quite as strong as London Calling is/was. But it’s still a classic album within it’s own right.

Combat Rock features two of the band’s most well known songs, Should I Stay or Should I Go and Rock the CasbahRock the Casbah has to be one of the funkiest tracks on the album and builds/presents itself as a dance-punk/new wave tune. The composition of the song is second to none. The drum fills during the bridge are excellent, the riffs and hooks are excellent, and the lyrics are excellent. Rock the Casbah is an all-around excellent song, albeit a heavily commercial one, but in all honesty, who really cares. It is the quintessential song to know by the Clash.

Should I Stay or Should I Go in some critics’ eyes would rank as the most poppiest/most produced Clash song. The guitar riff is very repetitive and for me kind of boring, but the vocals is what makes this song excellent.

Quick hits: Know Your Rights, has a slow progression, but it makes up for it with a bouncing bass line, and excellent drum work. It’s definitely a good album opener for this album. Overpowered by Funk has a bass line that never gets old, repetitive, or boring. Thus the song progresses off the base that the bass line gives off. It as a very funky beat to it. Straight to Hell is the longest song on the album, ranking in at over seven minutes long. It’s an “opera” of sorts given the length and the score of the song. The background orchestra on this track is excellent. The vocals are sharp as well.

Conclusion

So thirty-seven days up, thirty-seven days down. The Clash are one of the more iconic bands to come out of the music scene during the mid-to-late 1970s. Combat Rock is one of the band’s best works and captures a newer sound which would catch on for the newer generations of Clash listeners. Definitely listen to Should I Stay or Should I Go, Rock the Casbah, and Straight to Hell.

Year 2, Day 36: Loud and Local, Valencia’s Dancing With a Ghost

Year 2, Album 36: Valencia – Dancing With a Ghost

Tracklisting

  1. Dancing with a Ghost
  2. Spinning Out
  3. Still Need You Around (Lost Without You)
  4. Consider Me Dead
  5. Losing Sleep
  6. Friday Night
  7. Somewhere I Belong
  8. Days Go By
  9. The Way
  10. Stop Searching

About the Album

Dancing with a Ghost is the third studio album from Philadelphia rockers, Valencia. The album was released October 12 2010 through I Surrender Records.

Thoughts on the Album

During last year’s project, I wrote a piece on Valencia‘s debut album, This Could Be a Possibility (click here to read it!). Valencia is one of the few good local Philadelphia bands, and it’s a shame that they are on hiatus. So today’s album is Valencia’s third (and technically final) album, Dancing with a GhostValencia is definitely up there as to my favorite bands, and it’s not just because they are from Philadelphia.

So let’s begin, shall we? From the very start of the album with the opener and titled track, Dancing with a Ghost, you get a reminder of the band’s pop-punk origins. It has some good harmonies, a decent beat, and a catchy chorus that is delivered by the always reliable and consistent, Shane Henderson.

One of the band’s key strengths is their ability to play on people’s emotions, thus allowing them to brilliantly captivate their listeners attention all the while making them feel inspired. That is what the third track, Still Need You Around (Lost Without You) does exactly. The song has a structure that is built on passion and pure energy. The ending of the song is a beautiful climax/gang chorus in which Henderson pours his heart and soul into it.

The album closes with the track, Stop Searching. The instrumentation is excellent and the fast pace rhythm is a perfect way to end this album. The song has punk undertones has the listener can tell by the fast tempo, among other things.

Quick hits: Spinning Out has a similar sound to older Valencia songs, but with a more polished feel, but with a wee bit less aggression. It’s still an upbeat and catchy song. Somewhere I Belong, the seventh track, is dominated by subtle electronica and sweeping strings. The track also features a guest female vocalist, Simon Wilcox, whose voice adds a beautiful touch. The song is filled with heavy hitting parts, masked by an air of subtlety.

Conclusion

Valencia continued their musical progression with Dancing with a Ghost. The instrumentation is good, crisp, and sharp. The lyrics are just as good as ever. With this release, we see that there is definitely more that meets the eye with Valencia. Definitely give a listen to Still Need You Around (Lost Without You), Somewhere I Belong, and Stop Searching.

Year 2, Day 35: Amplifying the Good Times

Year 2, Album 35: Donots – Amplify the Good Times

Tracklisting

  1. Get Going
  2. Saccharine Smile
  3. Friends – Fucked
  4. Hours Away
  5. Big Mouth
  6. Lady Luck
  7. That’s Armageddon
  8. Rollercoaster
  9. My Stereo’s a Liar
  10. Worst Friend/Best Enemy
  11. Up Song
  12. Someone to Blame
  13. Oh Yeah
  14. Private Angel

About the Album

Amplify the Good Times is the third studio release from German (pop)-punk band, the Donots. The album was released on June 17 2002.

Thoughts on the Album

As we close out year two, I’ve decided to go out rocking. Welcome to the 35th album for  year 2, and it’s another good one. Today’s album comes all the way from across the pond in Germany. Amplify the Good Times is the third (major) studio album from German punk rock band, the Donots. If Mando Diao is my favorite band, the Donots are my second favorite. This is a fun album.

For me it comes off as an easy album to listen to. There is nothing complex about this album, which is good. Not saying complex is bad, but most the time simple works best. If it works in sports and real life, it can work in music. The Donots employ a very diversified portfolio of punk on this album, but it’s mainly punk-rock. The album also shows a maturation from their previous release, Pocketrockas it highlights more consistency.

The album also marks a shift in musical direction from previous releases, as the themes of the songs are more “darker” and serious. What I loved about this album is just, the exploration of unknown territories in the form of more serious sounding songs. The band shows a more critical view on the world. The instrumentation is improved and many new ideas (which will be expanded upon in future albums) are shown. I also love that the songs didn’t just stick to one specific mood.

If you’ve played EA Game‘s Burnout 3: Takedownthen you will probably recognize one of the songs found on this album. The second song, Saccharine Smile, is featured on the game’s OST (official soundtrack). The song is actually a fun, yet snarky, and sarcastic tune. I say this because if you read the lyrics while listening to the song, you see or should I say hear why. It’s a song about a girl who looks beautiful and sweet on the outside, but her personality on the inside is that of a cold hard bitch. It’s a catchy song that will have you singing along and putting your hands in the air.

Conclusion

You can really see the job that the Donots have done on Amplify the Good TimesThe album does an excellent job of either putting a smile on your face or make your think about the days past. It has the right mix of seriousness and fun. Definitely listen to Saccharine Smile, Big Mouth, Up Song, Private Angel, and Worst Friend/Best Enemy.

Year 2, Day 34: B-Sides Monday, The Malevolence… of Mando Diao

Year 2, Album 34: Mando Diao – The Malevolence of Mando Diao

Tracklisting

Disc 1

  1. Chi Ga
  2. This is the Modern
  3. Son of Dad
  4. Duel of the Dynamite
  5. The Malevolence
  6. Popovic
  7. Hail the Sunny Days
  8. Cinderella
  9. Last Time Infected
  10. Carbon Place
  11. Sheepdog (Acoustic)
  12. Chet Baker
  13. Sweet Jesus
  14. A Picture of ‘Em All
  15. And I Don’t Know
  16. With or Without Love
  17. Good Morning, Herr Horst (RAC mix)
  18. Spit on Your Love
  19. Telephone Song

Disc 2

  1. The Quarry
  2. How We Walk
  3. Searching for Owls
  4. San Francisco Bay
  5. Your Lover’s Nerve
  6. Moonshine Fever
  7. India Love
  8. For the Tears
  9. Waves of Fortune
  10. Deep Blue Sea
  11. She’s So
  12. Jeanette
  13. Long Before Rock ‘n’ Roll (live)
  14. We’re Hit
  15. Chi
  16. A Hard Day’s Night
  17. Little Boy Jr. (live)
  18. Paralyzed (live)
  19. Sheepdog (live)
  20. Driving Around

About the Album

The Malevolence of Mando Diaois a compilation album of songs recorded from 2002 to 2007, released in 2009 by Swedish rockers, Mando Diao. The album consists of 39 songs that were B-sides, live cuts, and remixes recorded by the band from 2002 to 2007. The album contains well over 2 hours and 20+ minutes of music.

Thoughts on the Album

Mando Diao holds a special place in my heart. Their music really speaks to me more than any other band does. Even their B-sides; which is a perfect segue into today’s post… The Malevolence of Mando DiaoThis massive behemoth compilation album consists of 39 tracks and 143 minutes and 19 seconds of music (that’s 2 hours, 23 minutes, and 19 seconds of music)! None of these tracks were obviously good enough to be singles… or even good enough to be album filler, so they were left on the cutting room floor.

But finally, all or at the very least, most of the Swede quintet’s b-sides are now in one place. As Mando Diao fan, I am biased when I say most of them are excellent songs… just excellent b-side songs. Majority of the two disc compilation album is more reminiscent of Mando Diao’s “old sound”. But according to Mando Diao’s lead guitarist and half of the Norén/Dixgård tandem, Gustaf Norén on whether or not the band was going back to their “old sound” on their upcoming 2014 (releasing this month) album…

A lot of people ask us if we’re going back to “the old Mando Diao sound” on the new record. There is no Mando Diao sound. We’re constantly evolving, and the music evolves with us. None of our albums sound the same as the last one, , and this upcoming one is not an exception. We’re always looking for new dimensions and we found yet another one with Aelita. -mandodiao.com

Aelita is the title of their upcoming album. But back to discussing this album and Mando Diao’s “sound”. If you listen from Bring ‘Em In, through Hurricane Bar, and through Ode to Ochrasy, and Never Seen the Light of Day, and finally, Give Me Fire! you can obviously tell that none of the albums sound the same. You can tell this also by listening to the songs on The Malevolence of Mando Diao that none of the b-sides sound alike.

Quick hits: the rapid fire, quick hitting opener, Chi Gais about a real person from the town of Borlänge, Sweden where the band is from. Chi Ga, the song, was a b-side from the album Hurricane Bar. The track India Love, is another rapid fire track, but longer however. It’s got quick choppy guitar riffs and a catchy chorus. India Love was originally released as a b-side on the single Down in the PastYour Lover’s Nerve could be one of favorites from this album; it’s a very pretty song. Your Lover’s Nerve, was originally released as a b-side on the single, You Can’t Steal My Love. Finally, my favorite track from this album, Jeanette. It’s obviously about a girl. It has everything a Mando Diao song needs with a few extras… snark, wit, sarcasm, a little self-deprecation, along with a catchy guitar riff and chorus. Hell it even has a freaking women’s gospel choir join in during the second chorus.

Conclusion

Obviously with b-sides, it’s hit or miss when listening to them and deciding whether or not you like them. Me personally, I love a few of the tracks but the rest are okay. I know why they are all b-sides, but that’s okay. Tracks like Jeanette, India Love, Chi Ga, Your Lover’s Nerve, and The Malevolence are pretty good. Anyhow, I will totally recommend this to any/everyone; it is an awesome listen, and awesome value for so many songs.