Melt’s Armageddon Party
By Jennifer Russo
You have to admire the idea that if there were an Armageddon, there would be a group of people partying it up in the streets, listening to and performing good music even though the sky was raining fire. I can only hope that I would be one of those few. MELT’s latest CD offering, Armageddon Party, is hard to define. Each song is very different from the other in both style and feel. The title song instantly made me think of what it might sound like to be at the wedding of Pink Floyd and Radiohead, while the song “Supersonic” gave me an anthem-like 80s rock feel. “Draggin Me Down” busted out some punk vibes while the next song, “Glory Box,” mellowed almost to a seductive jazz level, with a sultry vocal, steady beat and astounding guitar solo.
So after giving it some thought, the album is what I would conservatively call modern groove music. Vocalist Lindsey Kyte’s ability at the mic is amazing. She attacks each song with a great range and a beautiful vibrato reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick and a tone that made me think of Enya here and there. The band, too, can hold their own with a very distinctive style. Now that I have heard them, I would know them if I heard them again ~ a level of recognition that all bands want. Kyte is backed by a drummer who takes on the challenge of playing standard beats and also throwing in some world art sounds. Guitar and bass contribute beautiful and soulful melodies.
The music on Armageddon Party is incredibly diverse. I think the best thing to do while listening to this album is look through a kaleidoscope and let your mind venture off into its own little world.
Tim Myers’ Techinicolor
By Jason Savio
Singer/songwriter and ex-OneRepublic bassist Tim Myers is making a name for himself by taking a page from the 21st century songbook and creating heavily produced, quick flashes of ear-worm magic. The results on his solo debut Technicolor are undeniable guilty pleasures that show up to the party quickly and try to leave before wearing out their welcome. Most make it out of the door in time, a very few don’t.
Myers has a good ear for crafting uplifting pop nuggets like the tight symphonic bop “Under Control” (which is getting major radio play all across the country) and the sing-along “Come Alive.” Intentional or not, a couple of the songs sound somewhat similar to other hits both past and present (see “Creatures Of The Night,” that sounds like a cousin to the recent Neon Trees’ smash “Animal” and “Life’s A Party,” a tune that both thematically and musically echoes Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life”), but are saved from copy-catting by Myers’ voice and unique style.
If all the cheer is too much for you, then there is the unusually placed dark-psychedelic “Black Jesus” that, when compared with the rest of the songs on the album, is the musical equivalent of inviting Pennywise to be the clown at your kid’s birthday party. The most inspired, however, is “The Fall” ~ a track that has more heart than anything else here.
Although the slick gleam may make it often transparent, the happy sounds and good vibes of Technicolor are a welcome change of pace from the tension tightened palette of most modern music and Myers shows strong solo potential.
For more info please visit: www.myspace.com/timmyersmusic
The Veer Union’s Divide The Blackened Sky
By Alvin Benjamin Carter III
At first listen, The Veer Union’s third full-length release, Divide The Blackened Sky (a majority of which was self-produced, written and recorded by the band, with production on the first single, “Bitter End,” handled by world-renowned producer Brian Howes [Nickelback, Hinder, Skillet, Puddle Of Mudd, Rev Theory]) might sound like a Nickelback-Daughtry collaboration; give it a second listen, though, and you’ll realize that, thankfully, it’s much, much more.
Although faced with significant adversity ~ including a revolving lineup, label changes and more ~ The Veer Union’s two mainstays, vocalist Crispin Earl and guitarist Eric Schraeder, have persevered to create Divide The Blackened Sky. They’ve crafted a highly energized, highly produced album that starts things off with opening song “Borderline,” which has a glossy rock feel with vocals reminiscent of the modern rock radio of the early 2000s; amongst other things, the guitar tone sounds big and yet overly compressed at the same time. This style of dynamic loud rock prevails throughout the entire record (with a bit of a departure n the middle), coming to a head early with the album’s second song and first single, “Bitter End.” The driving palm-mutes during the verses build a sense of urgency that erupts in raunchy guitar riffs that contrast well with the melodic vocals in the bridge.
The overall production of this ten-song juggernaut is spot-on for this type of record. The middle of the album opens up sonically with “Inside Our Scars.” The band slows it down and lets the guitars sound less compressed, leading one to assume the highly compressed tones on the other tracks are intentional and possibly done to make this edgy record more palatable to a wider audience. “Live Another Day” showcases drummer Neil Beaton’s busy stick work and stands out on an album that is generally straightforward in the rhythm department. This Vancouver powerhouse will continue to please current fans with Divide The Blackened Sky and undoubtedly earn them new ones, as the majority of the album’s songs are catchy and the perfect length for radio play.
Check out a teaser video for “Borderline” at youtu.be/-DYm7DgI2nU, and download the TVU iPhone App for free at itunes.apple.com/app/theveerunion/id505826683?mt=8.
The Cult’s Choice of Weapon
By Alvin Benjamin Carter III
Choice of Weapon, The Cult’s ninth studio album, does not disappoint ~ musically or thematically. The opening track, “Honey From a Knife,” announces the Brit rockers (Billy Duffy, Chris Wyse, Ian Astbury, and John Tempesta) are back and ready to shake things up. The harmonies are stellar and the guitar tone is classic. The second song, “Elemental Light,” successfully incorporates elements reminiscent of Velvet Underground and U2, and once again the guitar tone is spot-on and the vocals magnetic. “Embers” is a somber journey that evokes an image of an Englishman down by the bayou; the mournful slide guitar sets the tone in a simple yet masterful way.
The entire album is very specific and is particularly appealing to those of us who have been enamored of the band’s work for years, but newcomers to The Cult will appreciate the tracks as well ~ and will likely be inspired to go back and listen to the rest of the band’s impressive catalog. Each track is unmistakably The Cult, with the flamboyant Astbury’s vocals as strong as ever; there is a similarity amongst all the tracks, but it actually works in the album’s favor by making it cohesive.
One of the more uplifting tunes on the record is “Every Man and Woman Is a Star.” The hook begs for an arena full of fans to sing along during a prolonged breakdown led by Astbury. Rounding out the album is the gurgling, bass-laden “Siberia.” The track, with its carefully constructed dissonance, sums up the vibe of the album with its contrasting emotions. In many ways, as with The Cult’s previous albums, Choice of Weapon hearkens back to their epic debut, Dreamtime, but offers listeners a more mature, passionate, album with a more focused point of view; in other words, the band doesn’t rest on its decade of laurels, but instead reveals its maturation. The album puts other bands who rose to prominence in the 80s on notice by laying out the blueprint on how to maintain their signature style without sacrificing musical growth.
Catch The Cult live on June 5 at HoB in Boston and on June 9 at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom. Check out band’s film clip for the single “For The Animals,” which reflects the band’s views on the today’s socially and economically divided world: bit.ly/thecultfortheanimals
Demons Alley’s Dead End Tricks
By Alex Kantarelis
Worcester’s Demons Alley have been spreading their style of 80s influenced rock ‘n’ roll all around the Northeast since their inception in 2006. Combining elements of bands like Kiss, Motley Crue, and the New York Dolls (with a dash of Ramones ~ and even The Runaways! ~ from time to time) to form their classic but yet still heavy sound, these guys put on one hell of a stage show ~ and has captured that energy on their first full length release, Dead End Tricks.
All you have to do is take a look at the back cover of the CD ~ a picture of the long-haired, eyeliner-loving band hanging at Ralph’s ~ to know what you’re in for; the photo captures a grittiness that in many ways defines the band’s sound.
Things kick off with the high energy and catchy track “Dope City,” which has an intro reminiscent of KISS’s “Love Gun.” As the tracks keep rolling, the rock never stops as each song is crafted to keep the energy up at a rock club ~ or in your car.
Track 9, “In My Sight,” has a punk rock vibe, and sounds like something The Misfits would definitely approve of, and opens up the door for a stand out track, “Dirty Girl,” which has my favorite opening riff on the album. Sometimes a riff can speak louder than a chorus, and “Dirty Girl” nails one of those riffs.
The songs have a certain catchiness and very appealing rawness that sounds authentic, not over-produced in a studio. Demons Alley have a natural sound, not 600 layers of auto-tuned vocals with electronic dance squealy noises (you know what I’m talking about). I give the album credit for actually sounding like it came from 1984 ~ kind of as if we’d stepped into Marty McFly’s time machine and set course back to when rock n rock was real…a little sleazy, a little rough, a little in-your-face, and absolutely addictive.
Demons Alley would be right at home opening for Aerosmith at Sir Morgan’s Cove back in the day or playing a club in the East Village, so we should all be glad that we have a real rock band like DA right in our own backyards.
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