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July 2014
28
Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) Record Label: Loud Release Date: November 9 1993 It’s true what they say – Wu-Tang Clan is nothing to f*ck with. Not that I’ve learned this the hard way, by directly confronting Wu-Tang or any of its members, but by just listening to debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang, one can get an idea of why not to mess with these men. Enter the Wu-Tang is the definition of a landmark album, well, at least in my personal definition. A landmark album to me is one that progressed a genre forward, or was totally groundbreaking in some aspect, and Enter the Wu-Tang is groundbreaking in many ways: it was one of the first successful rap groups, it was a major player in hardcore hip-hop and “gangsta rap” of the 90s, and it also launched the solo careers of many of Wu-Tang’s members, who also released groundbreaking and classic albums. In other words, Enter the Wu-Tang is a record that deserves to go down in history for being one of the best albums of all time, but why is some suburban 20-something white guy writing about this album? Let me explain my history with this group, just to get an idea of my personal backstory with it. Last year, in 2013, I had purchased a copy of this LP after seeing it at Best Buy for around $7 or so. It was definitely worth that price, and I also got a Wu-Tang shirt at Target, too. I listened to the album a few times, but since I wasn’t familiar with this kind of music (I’m not too much of a hip-hop fan, but I have wanted to dive more into the genre, at least), and because I was trying to hone my skills as a reviewer/writer, I put this album on hold. Because of my “schedule,” with how many new albums are coming out, I haven’t bothered to go back to it.  Well, I did decide to get some “old school” hip-hop albums, well, at least early 00s ones, anyway. I got N*E*R*D’s 2002 debut album, In Search Of, and Outkast’s 2000 album, Stankonia, and both of those are quite legendary albums in hip-hop, so I decided that now would be a good time to look at more hip-hop albums. Along with looking at Enter the Wu-Tang again, I also got copies of Public Enemy’s 1987 debut, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, and A Tribe Called Quest’s 1993 LP, Midnight Marauders. Fun fact: Midnight Marauders was released the same day as Enter the Wu-Tang. So now that I’ve been diving a bit more into this genre, I felt more confident to review it. I didn’t need to listen to it too much more, because I had listened to it many months ago and I still remembered it. As I mentioned in my preamble, this album is a landmark record, so it’s pretty clear to see how I feel about it, but the question is why? That’s not an easy thing to explain, but it can be done. I might not be the right person to talk about this LP, being that I’m not very familiar with hip-hop culture and the genre itself, but I like the music I’m hearing and after doing a bit of research, I feel confident enough to write about it.


The biggest things that really work in this album’s favor are the slew of rappers in the group and the sound itself. Those are pretty simple things on the surface, but in all honesty, Wu-Tang started something huge. They weren’t the only group who did, but if you’re the kind of person who complains about hip-hop lyrics being nothing about “drugs, sex, money, and cars,” blame Wu-Tang Clan. Most rappers who do this most likely got that from groups like Wu-Tang and Public Enemy. The difference is, these groups made “bragging” sound much better and much more original than some newer artists do. On Enter the Wu-Tang, some tracks, including “C.R.E.A.M,” and “Tearz” don’t glorify their lifestyles but tell it like it is. The latter track is about the famous saying, cash rules everything about me, and how it translates into their world, and the latter track is about the consequences of living this kind of lifestyle, including watching a friend die in a drive-by and having unprotected sex and dying of AIDS (which was hitting the US by storm at that time). Those are some pretty heavy topics for any artist to cover, but thankfully, instead of glorifying these types of things, Wu-Tang, for the lack of a better phrase, “keeps it real.” Of course, though, there are songs like “Bring Da Ruckus,” and the group’s debut single (and ultimately the first song I heard by them), “Protect Ya Neck” that do make the group sound menacing. You don’t want to mess with these guys and these tracks showed that. Because the group was also, well, a group, highlight all of the different rappers on this LP was a great aspect, too. Each rapper is quite unique, and the rappers on here include Wu-Tang Clan “leader,” RZA, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Ghost Face Killah, Raekwon, Method Man, and a few others. Each one brings a different flow to the table, and they’re all quite entertaining to listen to. Personally, I couldn’t quite pick each one out, minus Method Man, who does get an eponymous song on the LP all for himself, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who do have very unique voices, but the rest of the rappers on here are wonderful as well. And really, one of my biggest problems with this album is how many rappers there are. Not that it’s a horrible thing, because that does mean a lot of variety is on the album, but at the same time, it’s just too many names and voices to remember. It can be a bit overwhelming if you aren’t used to any of these rappers, and I’m not. Another problem I have, despite it being quite small, is how long this album is. That’s a problem that a lot of records have, and hip-hop is notorious for having very long LPs, a lot of songs being filler. This doesn’t have any filler, but instead, switches back to the members talking about various things, and none of the conversations are really that interesting or serve any purpose. They just come out of nowhere. There are various kung-fu samples used in this album, but that makes sense – Wu-Tang Clan is meant to be a “clan” in the same style of martial arts films, and they use that to their advantage. The little skits they have don’t quite make sense or at least, just don’t have any purpose. Despite that, Enter the Wu-Tang is a great album. Not exactly a “perfect” album, but whatever problems it does have are easy to overlook. If you want to hear where hip-hop came from, give this album a listen. Favorite tracks: “C.R.E.A.M.” & “Protect Ya Neck” Overall rating: 9.5/10-Bradley

Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Record Label: Loud
Release Date: November 9 1993

It’s true what they say – Wu-Tang Clan is nothing to f*ck with. Not that I’ve learned this the hard way, by directly confronting Wu-Tang or any of its members, but by just listening to debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang, one can get an idea of why not to mess with these men. Enter the Wu-Tang is the definition of a landmark album, well, at least in my personal definition. A landmark album to me is one that progressed a genre forward, or was totally groundbreaking in some aspect, and Enter the Wu-Tang is groundbreaking in many ways: it was one of the first successful rap groups, it was a major player in hardcore hip-hop and “gangsta rap” of the 90s, and it also launched the solo careers of many of Wu-Tang’s members, who also released groundbreaking and classic albums. In other words, Enter the Wu-Tang is a record that deserves to go down in history for being one of the best albums of all time, but why is some suburban 20-something white guy writing about this album? Let me explain my history with this group, just to get an idea of my personal backstory with it. Last year, in 2013, I had purchased a copy of this LP after seeing it at Best Buy for around $7 or so. It was definitely worth that price, and I also got a Wu-Tang shirt at Target, too. I listened to the album a few times, but since I wasn’t familiar with this kind of music (I’m not too much of a hip-hop fan, but I have wanted to dive more into the genre, at least), and because I was trying to hone my skills as a reviewer/writer, I put this album on hold. Because of my “schedule,” with how many new albums are coming out, I haven’t bothered to go back to it.

Well, I did decide to get some “old school” hip-hop albums, well, at least early 00s ones, anyway. I got N*E*R*D’s 2002 debut album, In Search Of, and Outkast’s 2000 album, Stankonia, and both of those are quite legendary albums in hip-hop, so I decided that now would be a good time to look at more hip-hop albums. Along with looking at Enter the Wu-Tang again, I also got copies of Public Enemy’s 1987 debut, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, and A Tribe Called Quest’s 1993 LP, Midnight Marauders. Fun fact: Midnight Marauders was released the same day as Enter the Wu-Tang. So now that I’ve been diving a bit more into this genre, I felt more confident to review it. I didn’t need to listen to it too much more, because I had listened to it many months ago and I still remembered it. As I mentioned in my preamble, this album is a landmark record, so it’s pretty clear to see how I feel about it, but the question is why? That’s not an easy thing to explain, but it can be done. I might not be the right person to talk about this LP, being that I’m not very familiar with hip-hop culture and the genre itself, but I like the music I’m hearing and after doing a bit of research, I feel confident enough to write about it.

The biggest things that really work in this album’s favor are the slew of rappers in the group and the sound itself. Those are pretty simple things on the surface, but in all honesty, Wu-Tang started something huge. They weren’t the only group who did, but if you’re the kind of person who complains about hip-hop lyrics being nothing about “drugs, sex, money, and cars,” blame Wu-Tang Clan. Most rappers who do this most likely got that from groups like Wu-Tang and Public Enemy. The difference is, these groups made “bragging” sound much better and much more original than some newer artists do. On Enter the Wu-Tang, some tracks, including “C.R.E.A.M,” and “Tearz” don’t glorify their lifestyles but tell it like it is. The latter track is about the famous saying, cash rules everything about me, and how it translates into their world, and the latter track is about the consequences of living this kind of lifestyle, including watching a friend die in a drive-by and having unprotected sex and dying of AIDS (which was hitting the US by storm at that time). Those are some pretty heavy topics for any artist to cover, but thankfully, instead of glorifying these types of things, Wu-Tang, for the lack of a better phrase, “keeps it real.” Of course, though, there are songs like “Bring Da Ruckus,” and the group’s debut single (and ultimately the first song I heard by them), “Protect Ya Neck” that do make the group sound menacing. You don’t want to mess with these guys and these tracks showed that.

Because the group was also, well, a group, highlight all of the different rappers on this LP was a great aspect, too. Each rapper is quite unique, and the rappers on here include Wu-Tang Clan “leader,” RZA, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Ghost Face Killah, Raekwon, Method Man, and a few others. Each one brings a different flow to the table, and they’re all quite entertaining to listen to. Personally, I couldn’t quite pick each one out, minus Method Man, who does get an eponymous song on the LP all for himself, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who do have very unique voices, but the rest of the rappers on here are wonderful as well. And really, one of my biggest problems with this album is how many rappers there are. Not that it’s a horrible thing, because that does mean a lot of variety is on the album, but at the same time, it’s just too many names and voices to remember. It can be a bit overwhelming if you aren’t used to any of these rappers, and I’m not. Another problem I have, despite it being quite small, is how long this album is. That’s a problem that a lot of records have, and hip-hop is notorious for having very long LPs, a lot of songs being filler. This doesn’t have any filler, but instead, switches back to the members talking about various things, and none of the conversations are really that interesting or serve any purpose. They just come out of nowhere. There are various kung-fu samples used in this album, but that makes sense – Wu-Tang Clan is meant to be a “clan” in the same style of martial arts films, and they use that to their advantage. The little skits they have don’t quite make sense or at least, just don’t have any purpose. Despite that, Enter the Wu-Tang is a great album. Not exactly a “perfect” album, but whatever problems it does have are easy to overlook. If you want to hear where hip-hop came from, give this album a listen.

Favorite tracks: “C.R.E.A.M.” & “Protect Ya Neck”

Overall rating: 9.5/10

-Bradley

July 2014
27
Outkast – Stankonia Record Label: La Face / Arista Release Date: October 31 2000 Because I’m usually listening to a handful of records at a time, whether it’s a “new” release or something from yesteryear, there are bands/artists I really want to get to that I just haven’t had the time. A couple of recent examples include post-hardcore band Vanna, and hard-rock/prog-rock band Nothing More. The reason I was able to really get into these bands was because they both just released new albums, so it was the perfect time for me to listen to them. In the case of Vanna, I’ve wanted to give them a listen for a long time now, but I just never had the chance. I had seen they released a new album, and decided to get it. I was sure I’d like it, so I took a chance on it. As for Nothing More, I’ve heard a couple of their records, but never had the chance to really dive into them, so I figured that getting a copy of their new LP would be a good idea. Honestly, I’m much more into Vanna than Nothing More, but the idea is still the same. It does help if a band has a new album out, so I can get a first impression of them, but what happens when there’s a band who hasn’t released any new material in years? How are you supposed to get into a band/artist who are inactive and haven’t released anything new in who knows how long? Especially when you’re a critic like me, who really only immerses himself in new releases, so most “older” albums have to wait. Well, the thing that really helps is when albums are on sale in stores, so I don’t feel like I’m spending an arm and a leg to get an album, especially when it’s one that I want to hear. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that a handful of albums from hip-hop/R&B duo Outkast were on sale at FYE, and despite the regular price not being too bad, they were on sale for a nice fraction of that, so I knew I had to get it. Let me backtrack for a second, though. Last year, I found a copy of a greatest hits albums Outkast released called Big Boi and Dre Presents at Best Buy, but I was disappointed because I thought it was a regular album. I’ve always wanted to listen to Outkast. Heck, they’re regarded as one of the defining hip-hop groups and have had some hits that defined the early 00s. I did listen to it a couple times, and while it did feature some new songs (one of which won a Grammy, I believe), I wanted to hear a full album, not just a selection of songs, since that’s the kind of music fan I am. I tried to take my greatest hits album to FYE to get rid of it, but they wouldn’t take it, so that was a sign to get into this group finally. The album that stuck out to me was 2000’s Stankonia. Not only did the very odd name stick out to me, but I saw a couple of songs that I recognized, including “So Fresh, So Clean,” which was the song from the greatest hits album that I liked most. It was also featured in a History of Rap Music sketch with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake right after I heard it, and I just knew I needed to hear the whole album. The album also featured a couple more of their biggest singles, such as “Ms. Jackson,” and “B.O.B,” so for $5.99, which was the price of it, it was utterly a steal. Now that I’ve had the album for a few weeks, how did it go? To be honest, it went quite well. Stankonia isn’t exactly a record that I’d call one of my all time favorites, but it’s still damn good. There’s no denying that whatsoever. There are a handful of reasons this record really shot the duo into stardom, and the biggest one is that it combined many genres together, including pop, R&B, hip-hop, psychedelia, and funk. Each song on this LP is totally different, even if there are some duds. What makes the duds work is that they are still memorable in some way, but they just don’t particularly work for me. Despite the variety and versatile nature of these tracks, the album does flow quite well together, and that’s something I really look for in an album. Right off the bat, the album is around 73 minutes, and if the album is bland, boring, or overblown, it can really suffer in its overall experience. While Stankonia does have its fair share of tracks that I don’t care for, it’s still a consistent sounding album. That might be a hypocritical thing to say, that the album is diverse but still concise, and thankfully, some artists/bands can really make it work. Outkast is definitely one of them. Stankonia is a landmark hip-hop album because it brought their brand of Southern hip-hop (the duo is from Atlanta, which they reference a lot) to the masses and to the rest of the country. Southern hip-hop started becoming more commonplace and more accepted, especially when the dominant forms of hip-hop were the West Coast an East Coast movements. Southern hip-hop really didn’t have a voice until Outkast came along. Just because an album is a groundbreaking release doesn’t make it good right off the bat. Don’t worry about that with Stankonia, because it’s really freaking good. The album’s name is a combination between “stank,” a slang term for “cool” or “funky” and “Plutonia,” which was a name of a city on a poster in Andre 3000’s, real name Andre Lauren Benjamin, room. The intro of the record has Andre referencing this, and it’s a really odd intro, but it serves as an interesting setup of the record. And Stankonia is meant to be a place where people can have fun, relax, and just have a good time. That’s really what the album is about, too. There are plenty of catchy, fun, and energetic tracks on here, all the while providing new ideas and genuinely being unique and original. The biggest difference from their earlier work is that Andre 3000 chose not to rap as much on this LP; he wanted to sing and his vocals have a more melodic edge to them, which work very well. I’ve always loved his singing, and he reminds me of rapper Childish Gambino, in the sense that they’re both rappers who double as really good singers and can really pull of that R&B sound. And Stankonia really does blur the lines between hip-hop and R&B at a lot of points in the album, such as the biggest hits on the record, “So Fresh, So Clean,” and “Ms. Jackson.” These are not only two of the biggest singles off the album, but two of my personal favorites. Other tracks, like “B.O.B,” “Gangsta Sh*t,” and “Xplostion,” are definitely more hip-hop influenced, but they work just fine. I love the jittery and  frantic beat on “B.O.B,” actually, and both Andre 3000’s and other member, Big Boi (real name Antwan Andre Patton) have great flows on this track. There are even a few tracks that go a bit off the wall, such as the closing track, “Stankonia (Stanklove),” which is a psych-rock track in terms of how it sounds and how it’s structured. It’s a great closing track, and definitely one of the many highlights this record has to offer. With everything that’s really enjoyable about a record, there are some things that just don’t work at all, and this album does have its fair share of songs that I just don’t care about, including “We Luv Deez Hoes,” “Humble Mumble,” and “Snappin’ and Trappin’.” These aren’t bad, per se, but they really just don’t do much for me. My biggest problem with this album is how long it is – 73 minutes. While there is around 51 minutes worth of stuff I do enjoy, there is still a huge amount of tracks on here that I just don’t care for, which is a bit of a problem. It may seem like a lot, but I should mention that the album has a lot of 30-second to a minute long interludes that are usually just spoken, and they really serve no purpose. The intro is the only one that has any purpose at all, but the others make no sense, or have no point to them, so I don’t bother with them. If those were gone, and the album was shortened up just a bit, it would be a bit more enjoyable. And if you can look past any duds you may find, the album is still wonderful. I can’t say it’s perfect, because there are songs I just don’t care for, but it’s still worth a listen, whether you’re a hip-hop fan, or just a music fan who wants to try something new or different. Favorite tracks: “So Fresh, So Clean,” “Ms. Jackson,” & “I Call Before I Come” Overall rating: 8.5/10-Bradley

Outkast – Stankonia
Record Label: La Face / Arista
Release Date: October 31 2000

Because I’m usually listening to a handful of records at a time, whether it’s a “new” release or something from yesteryear, there are bands/artists I really want to get to that I just haven’t had the time. A couple of recent examples include post-hardcore band Vanna, and hard-rock/prog-rock band Nothing More. The reason I was able to really get into these bands was because they both just released new albums, so it was the perfect time for me to listen to them. In the case of Vanna, I’ve wanted to give them a listen for a long time now, but I just never had the chance. I had seen they released a new album, and decided to get it. I was sure I’d like it, so I took a chance on it. As for Nothing More, I’ve heard a couple of their records, but never had the chance to really dive into them, so I figured that getting a copy of their new LP would be a good idea. Honestly, I’m much more into Vanna than Nothing More, but the idea is still the same. It does help if a band has a new album out, so I can get a first impression of them, but what happens when there’s a band who hasn’t released any new material in years? How are you supposed to get into a band/artist who are inactive and haven’t released anything new in who knows how long? Especially when you’re a critic like me, who really only immerses himself in new releases, so most “older” albums have to wait.

Well, the thing that really helps is when albums are on sale in stores, so I don’t feel like I’m spending an arm and a leg to get an album, especially when it’s one that I want to hear. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that a handful of albums from hip-hop/R&B duo Outkast were on sale at FYE, and despite the regular price not being too bad, they were on sale for a nice fraction of that, so I knew I had to get it. Let me backtrack for a second, though. Last year, I found a copy of a greatest hits albums Outkast released called Big Boi and Dre Presents at Best Buy, but I was disappointed because I thought it was a regular album. I’ve always wanted to listen to Outkast. Heck, they’re regarded as one of the defining hip-hop groups and have had some hits that defined the early 00s. I did listen to it a couple times, and while it did feature some new songs (one of which won a Grammy, I believe), I wanted to hear a full album, not just a selection of songs, since that’s the kind of music fan I am. I tried to take my greatest hits album to FYE to get rid of it, but they wouldn’t take it, so that was a sign to get into this group finally. The album that stuck out to me was 2000’s Stankonia. Not only did the very odd name stick out to me, but I saw a couple of songs that I recognized, including “So Fresh, So Clean,” which was the song from the greatest hits album that I liked most. It was also featured in a History of Rap Music sketch with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake right after I heard it, and I just knew I needed to hear the whole album. The album also featured a couple more of their biggest singles, such as “Ms. Jackson,” and “B.O.B,” so for $5.99, which was the price of it, it was utterly a steal. Now that I’ve had the album for a few weeks, how did it go?

To be honest, it went quite well. Stankonia isn’t exactly a record that I’d call one of my all time favorites, but it’s still damn good. There’s no denying that whatsoever. There are a handful of reasons this record really shot the duo into stardom, and the biggest one is that it combined many genres together, including pop, R&B, hip-hop, psychedelia, and funk. Each song on this LP is totally different, even if there are some duds. What makes the duds work is that they are still memorable in some way, but they just don’t particularly work for me. Despite the variety and versatile nature of these tracks, the album does flow quite well together, and that’s something I really look for in an album. Right off the bat, the album is around 73 minutes, and if the album is bland, boring, or overblown, it can really suffer in its overall experience. While Stankonia does have its fair share of tracks that I don’t care for, it’s still a consistent sounding album. That might be a hypocritical thing to say, that the album is diverse but still concise, and thankfully, some artists/bands can really make it work. Outkast is definitely one of them. Stankonia is a landmark hip-hop album because it brought their brand of Southern hip-hop (the duo is from Atlanta, which they reference a lot) to the masses and to the rest of the country. Southern hip-hop started becoming more commonplace and more accepted, especially when the dominant forms of hip-hop were the West Coast an East Coast movements. Southern hip-hop really didn’t have a voice until Outkast came along.

Just because an album is a groundbreaking release doesn’t make it good right off the bat. Don’t worry about that with Stankonia, because it’s really freaking good. The album’s name is a combination between “stank,” a slang term for “cool” or “funky” and “Plutonia,” which was a name of a city on a poster in Andre 3000’s, real name Andre Lauren Benjamin, room. The intro of the record has Andre referencing this, and it’s a really odd intro, but it serves as an interesting setup of the record. And Stankonia is meant to be a place where people can have fun, relax, and just have a good time. That’s really what the album is about, too. There are plenty of catchy, fun, and energetic tracks on here, all the while providing new ideas and genuinely being unique and original. The biggest difference from their earlier work is that Andre 3000 chose not to rap as much on this LP; he wanted to sing and his vocals have a more melodic edge to them, which work very well. I’ve always loved his singing, and he reminds me of rapper Childish Gambino, in the sense that they’re both rappers who double as really good singers and can really pull of that R&B sound. And Stankonia really does blur the lines between hip-hop and R&B at a lot of points in the album, such as the biggest hits on the record, “So Fresh, So Clean,” and “Ms. Jackson.” These are not only two of the biggest singles off the album, but two of my personal favorites. Other tracks, like “B.O.B,” “Gangsta Sh*t,” and “Xplostion,” are definitely more hip-hop influenced, but they work just fine. I love the jittery and  frantic beat on “B.O.B,” actually, and both Andre 3000’s and other member, Big Boi (real name Antwan Andre Patton) have great flows on this track. There are even a few tracks that go a bit off the wall, such as the closing track, “Stankonia (Stanklove),” which is a psych-rock track in terms of how it sounds and how it’s structured. It’s a great closing track, and definitely one of the many highlights this record has to offer.

With everything that’s really enjoyable about a record, there are some things that just don’t work at all, and this album does have its fair share of songs that I just don’t care about, including “We Luv Deez Hoes,” “Humble Mumble,” and “Snappin’ and Trappin’.” These aren’t bad, per se, but they really just don’t do much for me. My biggest problem with this album is how long it is – 73 minutes. While there is around 51 minutes worth of stuff I do enjoy, there is still a huge amount of tracks on here that I just don’t care for, which is a bit of a problem. It may seem like a lot, but I should mention that the album has a lot of 30-second to a minute long interludes that are usually just spoken, and they really serve no purpose. The intro is the only one that has any purpose at all, but the others make no sense, or have no point to them, so I don’t bother with them. If those were gone, and the album was shortened up just a bit, it would be a bit more enjoyable. And if you can look past any duds you may find, the album is still wonderful. I can’t say it’s perfect, because there are songs I just don’t care for, but it’s still worth a listen, whether you’re a hip-hop fan, or just a music fan who wants to try something new or different.

Favorite tracks: “So Fresh, So Clean,” “Ms. Jackson,” & “I Call Before I Come”

Overall rating: 8.5/10

-Bradley

July 2014
27

Photo Gallery by Leo Burke ( Leo Burke )

Artist/Band:  Blues Traveler

Location: House Of Blues - Boston, Ma.

Date: July 22, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

July 2014
27

Photo Gallery by Leo Burke ( Leo Burke )

Artist/Band:  Smash Mouth

Location: House Of Blues - Boston, Ma.

Date: July 22, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

July 2014
27

Photo Gallery by Leo Burke ( Leo Burke )

Artist/Band:  Sugar Ray

Location: House Of Blues - Boston, Ma.

Date: July 22, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

July 2014
27

Photo Gallery by Leo Burke ( Leo Burke )

Artist/Band:  Uncle Kracker

Location: House Of Blues - Boston, Ma.

Date: July 22, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

July 2014
26

Photo Gallery by Kayla Surico (kayla-surico)

Artist(s)/Band(s): Hungover

Location: Austin’s Coffee - Winter Park, FL

Date: July 25, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

Listen to their music here!

July 2014
26

Photo Gallery by Kayla Surico (kayla-surico)

Artist(s)/Band(s): Hungover

Location: Austin’s Coffee - Winter Park, FL

Date: July 25, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

Listen to their music here!

July 2014
26

Photo Gallery by Kayla Surico (kayla-surico)

Artist(s)/Band(s): Born Without Bones (bornwithoutbones)

Location: Austin’s Coffee - Winter Park, FL

Date: July 25, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

Listen to their music here!

July 2014
26
Nothing More – Self-titled Record Label: Eleven Seven Release Date: June 24 2014 Society today has changed a lot over the years, and that’s a fact. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. Whether it’s a good change or a bad change, that’s up for debate. One change that a lot of people have noticed is how we, as a society, digest music and listen to music. Back in the 60s – early 00s, people waited for albums to come out and they just really had what was on the radio, along with “local bands.” The internet wasn’t around, so we couldn’t listen to bands/artists on MySpace (when that was still relevant in today’s society, anyway), YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, or whatever else people use to stream music. You couldn’t listen to leaks, or listen to albums a week early on YouTube, as most record labels and bands have been doing, by putting records on their channels for streaming early, but instead, all you had were a few singles and the patience to wait for full albums. I bring this up, because that’s how I still am today. Well, not that I’m insanely old, but I’m old school when it comes to albums. I don’t collect vinyl, but I do have a vast CD collection, and I also don’t listen to leaks anymore, or even advanced streams that often (unless I get an advanced copy to review a record, which is something totally different). I’m a good little music fan and wait for music to come out.  One thing I’ve been waiting for is Texas prog-rock/hard-rock band Nothing More’s new self-titled LP. The album originally came out last year, when it was released independently, and a friend of mine sent me a digital copy of the LP, thinking I would like it. I remember listening to it a couple times and I did like it, but just didn’t have time to listen to it more, since I had more stuff to get into. Fast forward to a few months ago, when I heard the band got signed to Eleven Seven Music, and were planning on releasing their self-titled album again. I figured it would be a good time to listen to them more, since I do cover new releases, this one included. Another friend of mine actually sent me the band’s last LP, The Few Not Fleeting, along with their 2013 album, because he also thought I’d be into them, so now I knew I needed to listen to this group. I did some music shopping recently, and I went to my local Best Buy, but I didn’t quite see anything, so I decided to either get Nothing More’s self-titled LP, or Mastodon’s new album, Once More ‘Round the Sun. I ended up with Nothing More, because I had just listened to Mastodon’s last LP, The Hunter, just a couple weeks prior, and wanted something a bit different. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to listen to Nothing More finally, so I ended up getting it. I’ve given the album a few spins, so how did that go?

Well, I have somewhat mixed feelings on this album, as I do with many. I’m quite frustrated with myself on this album, because I want to like it more than I do. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy it, but it’s just not as much I wish I enjoyed it. The first strike has against it is that it’s not something I normally listen to. That’s not a bad thing, considering that I do listen to a lot of stuff, regardless of genre, but I’m just not into hard-rock that much, with very few exceptions. Most of the genre just sticks to boring, tired clichés of the same lyrics, instrumentation, and sounds. Very few groups do try anything new or different. Chevelle is a band that did try to go more in the prog-rock territory earlier this year with La Gargola. That was a record I really enjoyed, but I can’t say the same about this one. In theory, I should really like this record, and I do like it somewhat, but there are some very major problems I have it. There are some great things, too, so let’s talk about that, for the time being. The main thing I really enjoy is vocalist Jonny Hawkins, who really makes this band stand out, for the most part. His voice is absolutely killer, and that’s ultimately what makes me like this album. On tracks like, “This is the Time (Ballast),” “First Punch,” and “Here’s to the Heartache,” his voice just slays. This man is a great singer, but only having a good vocalist isn’t quite enough to save a record.  My biggest problem with this album is how boring it is. See, the record is around 62 minutes long. It’s a hard-rock album that’s more than an hour. That’s its biggest problem right there. Hard-rock is a genre that’s not quite known for being unique, or interesting, and having the same formula for an hour is a bit monotonous. Nothing More does also classify as  a prog-rock band as well, and  that’s the only really interesting thing they have about them. They include a more “djent” guitar tone within the instrumentation, but that’s it. They don’t do much with it, or have anything else, other than that. It does make their instrumentation stand out, but they’re honestly kind of mediocre. Most of the tracks are quite boring to listen to, because they follow the same formula, have the same clichés that I’ve heard over and over, such as defaming the music industry (“Mr. MTV”), talking about religion (“Christ Copyright”), and just the same ideas that these kinds of bands talk about. They don’t quite offer anything new or interesting to add to these ideas, and it just gets boring. The instrumentation also has the same verse-chorus-verse formula throughout most of the album, minus a couple songs, such as album opener, “Ocean Floor,” and the closing track, “Pyre.” This is frankly the most boring song of all; it’s ten minutes of random noise that doesn’t quite do anything, go aware, or what have you. There are some sound clips in there of a speaker, but it’s nothing interesting and the song just annoys me because that long of a closing track isn’t necessary. At least for a whole ten minutes, anyway. I want to like this album much more than I do, and that bothers me a lot, because this is definitely a good album. It’s just, there’s much more hard-rock on here than there is prog-rock. They have the elements for a cool sound, and on paper, it sounds great, but it’s just not executed that well. Its other biggest problem is the length. I’d be more into this album if it was only 40 – 50 minutes long, but being 62 minutes is overkill, especially for this kind of sound. If you do like this band, having that long of a time to spend with the album isn’t a bad thing, but because I’m not feeling this record too much, it’s a bit hard to sit through. There’s just so much, and I honestly don’t want to listen to it over and over. If you are a hard-rock/prog-rock fan, give this a shot. While it didn’t do a lot for me, I still like it, and I do appreciate what they’re doing. It just felt too clunky, boring, and oversaturated for me to really get into. Overall rating: 7.8/10-Bradley

Nothing More – Self-titled
Record Label: Eleven Seven
Release Date: June 24 2014

Society today has changed a lot over the years, and that’s a fact. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. Whether it’s a good change or a bad change, that’s up for debate. One change that a lot of people have noticed is how we, as a society, digest music and listen to music. Back in the 60s – early 00s, people waited for albums to come out and they just really had what was on the radio, along with “local bands.” The internet wasn’t around, so we couldn’t listen to bands/artists on MySpace (when that was still relevant in today’s society, anyway), YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, or whatever else people use to stream music. You couldn’t listen to leaks, or listen to albums a week early on YouTube, as most record labels and bands have been doing, by putting records on their channels for streaming early, but instead, all you had were a few singles and the patience to wait for full albums. I bring this up, because that’s how I still am today. Well, not that I’m insanely old, but I’m old school when it comes to albums. I don’t collect vinyl, but I do have a vast CD collection, and I also don’t listen to leaks anymore, or even advanced streams that often (unless I get an advanced copy to review a record, which is something totally different). I’m a good little music fan and wait for music to come out.

One thing I’ve been waiting for is Texas prog-rock/hard-rock band Nothing More’s new self-titled LP. The album originally came out last year, when it was released independently, and a friend of mine sent me a digital copy of the LP, thinking I would like it. I remember listening to it a couple times and I did like it, but just didn’t have time to listen to it more, since I had more stuff to get into. Fast forward to a few months ago, when I heard the band got signed to Eleven Seven Music, and were planning on releasing their self-titled album again. I figured it would be a good time to listen to them more, since I do cover new releases, this one included. Another friend of mine actually sent me the band’s last LP, The Few Not Fleeting, along with their 2013 album, because he also thought I’d be into them, so now I knew I needed to listen to this group. I did some music shopping recently, and I went to my local Best Buy, but I didn’t quite see anything, so I decided to either get Nothing More’s self-titled LP, or Mastodon’s new album, Once More ‘Round the Sun. I ended up with Nothing More, because I had just listened to Mastodon’s last LP, The Hunter, just a couple weeks prior, and wanted something a bit different. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to listen to Nothing More finally, so I ended up getting it. I’ve given the album a few spins, so how did that go?

Well, I have somewhat mixed feelings on this album, as I do with many. I’m quite frustrated with myself on this album, because I want to like it more than I do. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy it, but it’s just not as much I wish I enjoyed it. The first strike has against it is that it’s not something I normally listen to. That’s not a bad thing, considering that I do listen to a lot of stuff, regardless of genre, but I’m just not into hard-rock that much, with very few exceptions. Most of the genre just sticks to boring, tired clichés of the same lyrics, instrumentation, and sounds. Very few groups do try anything new or different. Chevelle is a band that did try to go more in the prog-rock territory earlier this year with La Gargola. That was a record I really enjoyed, but I can’t say the same about this one. In theory, I should really like this record, and I do like it somewhat, but there are some very major problems I have it. There are some great things, too, so let’s talk about that, for the time being. The main thing I really enjoy is vocalist Jonny Hawkins, who really makes this band stand out, for the most part. His voice is absolutely killer, and that’s ultimately what makes me like this album. On tracks like, “This is the Time (Ballast),” “First Punch,” and “Here’s to the Heartache,” his voice just slays. This man is a great singer, but only having a good vocalist isn’t quite enough to save a record.

My biggest problem with this album is how boring it is. See, the record is around 62 minutes long. It’s a hard-rock album that’s more than an hour. That’s its biggest problem right there. Hard-rock is a genre that’s not quite known for being unique, or interesting, and having the same formula for an hour is a bit monotonous. Nothing More does also classify as  a prog-rock band as well, and  that’s the only really interesting thing they have about them. They include a more “djent” guitar tone within the instrumentation, but that’s it. They don’t do much with it, or have anything else, other than that. It does make their instrumentation stand out, but they’re honestly kind of mediocre. Most of the tracks are quite boring to listen to, because they follow the same formula, have the same clichés that I’ve heard over and over, such as defaming the music industry (“Mr. MTV”), talking about religion (“Christ Copyright”), and just the same ideas that these kinds of bands talk about. They don’t quite offer anything new or interesting to add to these ideas, and it just gets boring. The instrumentation also has the same verse-chorus-verse formula throughout most of the album, minus a couple songs, such as album opener, “Ocean Floor,” and the closing track, “Pyre.” This is frankly the most boring song of all; it’s ten minutes of random noise that doesn’t quite do anything, go aware, or what have you. There are some sound clips in there of a speaker, but it’s nothing interesting and the song just annoys me because that long of a closing track isn’t necessary. At least for a whole ten minutes, anyway.

I want to like this album much more than I do, and that bothers me a lot, because this is definitely a good album. It’s just, there’s much more hard-rock on here than there is prog-rock. They have the elements for a cool sound, and on paper, it sounds great, but it’s just not executed that well. Its other biggest problem is the length. I’d be more into this album if it was only 40 – 50 minutes long, but being 62 minutes is overkill, especially for this kind of sound. If you do like this band, having that long of a time to spend with the album isn’t a bad thing, but because I’m not feeling this record too much, it’s a bit hard to sit through. There’s just so much, and I honestly don’t want to listen to it over and over. If you are a hard-rock/prog-rock fan, give this a shot. While it didn’t do a lot for me, I still like it, and I do appreciate what they’re doing. It just felt too clunky, boring, and oversaturated for me to really get into.

Overall rating: 7.8/10

-Bradley

July 2014
26

Photo Gallery by Kayla Surico (kayla-surico)

Artist(s)/Band(s): Southbend

Location: Austin’s Coffee - Winter Park, FL

Date: July 25, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

July 2014
26

Photo Gallery by Kayla Surico (kayla-surico)

Artist(s)/Band(s): State Lines (statelinesny)

Location: Austin’s Coffee - Winter Park, FL

Date: July 25, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

Listen to their music here!

July 2014
26

Photo Gallery by Kayla Surico (kayla-surico)

Artist(s)/Band(s): Glazed

Location: Austin’s Coffee - Winter Park, FL

Date: July 25, 2014

You can view the entire set from this show here.

Listen to their music here!

July 2014
24
The Lonely Island – Turtleneck & Chain Record Label: Universal Republic Release Date: May 10 2011 As a music fan, one of the most puzzling things I’ve ever heard is that some music is better enjoyed if you “turn your brain off,” and/or “don’t take it seriously.” I never understood what that meant. Recently, I listened to the new Riff Raff LP, Neon Icon, with a friend of mine, just to see what the hype was about it. Personally, I thought the LP was utter trash, and there’s no way I’m going to dedicate a full review of it, since all I need to say is that it’s terrible (and that’s coming from a guy who’s not much of a hip-hop fan, I just know awful music when I hear it), but one thing that people were saying about the album is not to take what Riff Raff says seriously. I don’t quite get what people mean by that. The man isn’t a comedian, and even if he was trying to make a joke rather than an artistic statement, he’s not funny or clever about it. Even if I did “turn my brain off,” I’d still think it’s terrible. There’s a fine line between just letting the music sink in, and enjoying something for what it is, and thinking that something is still garbage. No matter how I looked at Neon Icon, whether it was seriously or not, it’s still a terrible record. Just because we shouldn’t take it seriously doesn’t mean it’s good. And I don’t quite get why people use that as an excuse or a defense as to why something is good.


Don’t get me wrong, I like some laidback music with lighthearted lyrics that are just about having a good time or things that aren’t so deep and/or heavy, but at the same time, I have standards when it comes to that stuff. Riff Raff is every cliché of rap music rolled into one and he’s not even clever or good, and he doesn’t seem to be a comedian. But there are some bands/artists that I know I shouldn’t’ take seriously, and the two biggest examples of that are Weird Al and The Lonely Island. Both acts are “comedy” acts and you can tell as soon as you listen to them. They’re meant to make you laugh, and not meant to change your life through a powerful lyric, song, or record. They’re just hear to make you laugh and enjoy yourself. I know I shouldn’t take these kinds of acts seriously, and that’s where the line is really drawn. If a band or artist is clearly telling me they’re a “joke,” and/or they’re a comedy act, meant to make you laugh, that’s one thing. There’s nothing wrong with taking music seriously, because for some people, music means a great deal to them, so I want albums that are going to influence me and make my life better. I want records that hit me in a powerful and emotional way, and that’s okay. It’s also okay to just enjoy music for what it is, too, and not care so much about the lyrics, but enjoy the instrumentation, tone, or beats of a song. For this review, I’ll focus on The Lonely Island. Comprised of comedians Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone, you may have seen their work on Saturday Night Live from 2005 – 2011, in the form of “digital shorts.” The group got their start with the song, “Lazy Sunday,” with former cast members Chris Parnell and Samberg, rapping about seeing the first Chronicles of Narnia film (which is quite a good film, if I do say so myself), and it hit the internet like wildfire. But after that, the trio got popular for more tracks like “I’m On a Boat,” “Jizz In My Pants,” and “Like a Boss,” all were featured on the band’s 2009 debut, “Incredibad.” I listened to some of that album, mainly the most popular tracks, and I liked what I heard. The band has released two albums since then, 2011’s Turtleneck & Chain and 2013’s The Wack Album. The former of those two albums is the one I’ll be focusing on this time around, because I traded records with a friend of mine. I gave him a record I didn’t really want anymore in exchange for this LP, and I had always wanted to hear a Lonely Island LP in full, so after a few listens, how did it go? Since I know I’m not supposed to take this LP seriously, it’s not a bad album, by no means. I got quite a few chuckles from the LP, but looking at it as a record itself, including the comedic aspect, it’s okay. I can’t say I love it, but I also can’t say I hate it. I knew a handful of tracks going into the album, including my favorite track, “Mother Lover,” featuring Justin Timberlake, “Threw It On the Ground,” and “Jack Sparrow,” featuring Michael Bolton, which is another one of my favorite tracks. I liked these songs just fine, so I had a feeling I’d enjoy the rest of it, at least somewhat. I wasn’t surprised with what I found, either. The Lonely Island crew has made me laugh a nice amount, but I’ve never found their brand of humor that hilarious or that interesting, aside from a few songs that really worked, including “Lazy Sunday,” which took a simple, mundane activity and turning it into a gangster-rap song. It seems like the band never quite lived up to the hype of their first LP.  I don’t want to say that this album just isn’t funny, because there are a lot of funny moments on here, but at the same time, for each funny moment that made me laugh, there’s a moment that I found insanely stupid and pointless. The three tracks that I loved most were “Motherlover,” “Jack Sparrow,” and the title track. “Motherlover” is a track that picks up right the song “D**k in a Box,” from Incredibad, leaves off. The song features JT and Andy Samberg as two characters that are basically trying to be “ladies men,” and this time, they remembered it’s Mother Day, but both of their mothers are single, due to various things, such as divorce and death. So they basically hatch a plan to have sex with each other’s mother, and it’s actually really funny, despite the lewd subject matter. The way that they paint the picture of seducing each other’s mom is funny to me, and it works nicely. The music itself works quite well, too; having JT on a track basically is going to make it solid. “Jack Sparrow” is a bit different, both in terms of subject matter, the joke, and the music itself. This track is a more hip-hop song, and Bolton is on this track because the band wanted him to write a hook, so he explains he has a really good hook, and the band begin rapping about the club, and women, but then Bolton’s hook is about the Pirates of the Caribbean films, along with the character Jack Sparrow, and the band is just as confused as the listener. It’s hilarious, because Bolton doesn’t get that he’s not supposed to be singing about movies. The song does have a nice hip-hop beat, and I won’t lie, the three band members do have a solid rap flow. On the title track, which features Snoop Dogg, of all rappers, it’s basically a joke that involves the guys thinking they’re ladies men, while wearing turtlenecks and thin chains, while drinking a light beer. It’s a song that makes me laugh as well. It’s got a nice beat, and Snoop’s verse is pretty solid. For every song that is somewhat funny, though, there are ones that don’t work, or I get the joke, and they’re just not funny. For instance, album opener, “We’re Back” is a rather dumb song about how the band has been doing outrageous since their last LP, and it’s just not interesting. Every so often, they try to have this “shock humor” by being really gross or lewd, and it’s just stupid. Songs like “Rocky,” “Trouble On Dookie Island,” and “No Homo” try to do that, and these songs just don’t work. The music itself isn’t even that bad, but the focus is on the lyrics and punchlines, and most of the tracks on this record just don’t deliver. And ultimately, that’s how I feel about it. The music itself is decent, and there are some standout songs, but overall, this album is okay. I can’t say I love it, and I don’t hate it. It’s a mixed bag, and even though I wasn’t supposed to take it seriously, that doesn’t mean I have to like it, or enjoy it. I know it’s comedy, but some of this album just didn’t really work for it. But if you like the Lonely Island, this is worth a listen, I suppose. I will say, though, that I was surprised at how well their sound and their brand of humor does hold up for a whole record. Its length is around 39 minutes, and it helps that the songs are short, so if you don’t like a show, it’s really brief. If you do like this band, or want to hear a full album from them, this isn’t a bad starting point. I can’t say I want to hear their other albums, but I know what I’m getting into if I do want to. Overall rating: 7/10-Bradley

The Lonely Island – Turtleneck & Chain
Record Label: Universal Republic
Release Date: May 10 2011

As a music fan, one of the most puzzling things I’ve ever heard is that some music is better enjoyed if you “turn your brain off,” and/or “don’t take it seriously.” I never understood what that meant. Recently, I listened to the new Riff Raff LP, Neon Icon, with a friend of mine, just to see what the hype was about it. Personally, I thought the LP was utter trash, and there’s no way I’m going to dedicate a full review of it, since all I need to say is that it’s terrible (and that’s coming from a guy who’s not much of a hip-hop fan, I just know awful music when I hear it), but one thing that people were saying about the album is not to take what Riff Raff says seriously. I don’t quite get what people mean by that. The man isn’t a comedian, and even if he was trying to make a joke rather than an artistic statement, he’s not funny or clever about it. Even if I did “turn my brain off,” I’d still think it’s terrible. There’s a fine line between just letting the music sink in, and enjoying something for what it is, and thinking that something is still garbage. No matter how I looked at Neon Icon, whether it was seriously or not, it’s still a terrible record. Just because we shouldn’t take it seriously doesn’t mean it’s good. And I don’t quite get why people use that as an excuse or a defense as to why something is good.

Don’t get me wrong, I like some laidback music with lighthearted lyrics that are just about having a good time or things that aren’t so deep and/or heavy, but at the same time, I have standards when it comes to that stuff. Riff Raff is every cliché of rap music rolled into one and he’s not even clever or good, and he doesn’t seem to be a comedian. But there are some bands/artists that I know I shouldn’t’ take seriously, and the two biggest examples of that are Weird Al and The Lonely Island. Both acts are “comedy” acts and you can tell as soon as you listen to them. They’re meant to make you laugh, and not meant to change your life through a powerful lyric, song, or record. They’re just hear to make you laugh and enjoy yourself. I know I shouldn’t take these kinds of acts seriously, and that’s where the line is really drawn. If a band or artist is clearly telling me they’re a “joke,” and/or they’re a comedy act, meant to make you laugh, that’s one thing. There’s nothing wrong with taking music seriously, because for some people, music means a great deal to them, so I want albums that are going to influence me and make my life better. I want records that hit me in a powerful and emotional way, and that’s okay. It’s also okay to just enjoy music for what it is, too, and not care so much about the lyrics, but enjoy the instrumentation, tone, or beats of a song.

For this review, I’ll focus on The Lonely Island. Comprised of comedians Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone, you may have seen their work on Saturday Night Live from 2005 – 2011, in the form of “digital shorts.” The group got their start with the song, “Lazy Sunday,” with former cast members Chris Parnell and Samberg, rapping about seeing the first Chronicles of Narnia film (which is quite a good film, if I do say so myself), and it hit the internet like wildfire. But after that, the trio got popular for more tracks like “I’m On a Boat,” “Jizz In My Pants,” and “Like a Boss,” all were featured on the band’s 2009 debut, “Incredibad.” I listened to some of that album, mainly the most popular tracks, and I liked what I heard. The band has released two albums since then, 2011’s Turtleneck & Chain and 2013’s The Wack Album. The former of those two albums is the one I’ll be focusing on this time around, because I traded records with a friend of mine. I gave him a record I didn’t really want anymore in exchange for this LP, and I had always wanted to hear a Lonely Island LP in full, so after a few listens, how did it go?

Since I know I’m not supposed to take this LP seriously, it’s not a bad album, by no means. I got quite a few chuckles from the LP, but looking at it as a record itself, including the comedic aspect, it’s okay. I can’t say I love it, but I also can’t say I hate it. I knew a handful of tracks going into the album, including my favorite track, “Mother Lover,” featuring Justin Timberlake, “Threw It On the Ground,” and “Jack Sparrow,” featuring Michael Bolton, which is another one of my favorite tracks. I liked these songs just fine, so I had a feeling I’d enjoy the rest of it, at least somewhat. I wasn’t surprised with what I found, either. The Lonely Island crew has made me laugh a nice amount, but I’ve never found their brand of humor that hilarious or that interesting, aside from a few songs that really worked, including “Lazy Sunday,” which took a simple, mundane activity and turning it into a gangster-rap song. It seems like the band never quite lived up to the hype of their first LP.

I don’t want to say that this album just isn’t funny, because there are a lot of funny moments on here, but at the same time, for each funny moment that made me laugh, there’s a moment that I found insanely stupid and pointless. The three tracks that I loved most were “Motherlover,” “Jack Sparrow,” and the title track. “Motherlover” is a track that picks up right the song “D**k in a Box,” from Incredibad, leaves off. The song features JT and Andy Samberg as two characters that are basically trying to be “ladies men,” and this time, they remembered it’s Mother Day, but both of their mothers are single, due to various things, such as divorce and death. So they basically hatch a plan to have sex with each other’s mother, and it’s actually really funny, despite the lewd subject matter. The way that they paint the picture of seducing each other’s mom is funny to me, and it works nicely. The music itself works quite well, too; having JT on a track basically is going to make it solid. “Jack Sparrow” is a bit different, both in terms of subject matter, the joke, and the music itself. This track is a more hip-hop song, and Bolton is on this track because the band wanted him to write a hook, so he explains he has a really good hook, and the band begin rapping about the club, and women, but then Bolton’s hook is about the Pirates of the Caribbean films, along with the character Jack Sparrow, and the band is just as confused as the listener. It’s hilarious, because Bolton doesn’t get that he’s not supposed to be singing about movies. The song does have a nice hip-hop beat, and I won’t lie, the three band members do have a solid rap flow. On the title track, which features Snoop Dogg, of all rappers, it’s basically a joke that involves the guys thinking they’re ladies men, while wearing turtlenecks and thin chains, while drinking a light beer. It’s a song that makes me laugh as well. It’s got a nice beat, and Snoop’s verse is pretty solid.

For every song that is somewhat funny, though, there are ones that don’t work, or I get the joke, and they’re just not funny. For instance, album opener, “We’re Back” is a rather dumb song about how the band has been doing outrageous since their last LP, and it’s just not interesting. Every so often, they try to have this “shock humor” by being really gross or lewd, and it’s just stupid. Songs like “Rocky,” “Trouble On Dookie Island,” and “No Homo” try to do that, and these songs just don’t work. The music itself isn’t even that bad, but the focus is on the lyrics and punchlines, and most of the tracks on this record just don’t deliver. And ultimately, that’s how I feel about it. The music itself is decent, and there are some standout songs, but overall, this album is okay. I can’t say I love it, and I don’t hate it. It’s a mixed bag, and even though I wasn’t supposed to take it seriously, that doesn’t mean I have to like it, or enjoy it. I know it’s comedy, but some of this album just didn’t really work for it. But if you like the Lonely Island, this is worth a listen, I suppose. I will say, though, that I was surprised at how well their sound and their brand of humor does hold up for a whole record. Its length is around 39 minutes, and it helps that the songs are short, so if you don’t like a show, it’s really brief. If you do like this band, or want to hear a full album from them, this isn’t a bad starting point. I can’t say I want to hear their other albums, but I know what I’m getting into if I do want to.

Overall rating: 7/10

-Bradley

July 2014
24
Derek Discanio of State Champs

Derek Discanio of State Champs