Review: “Be More Kind”

English Singer-Songwriter Frank Turner is back with this seventh studio album “Be More Kind.”

Let me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of Frank Turner. The man is a master songwriter!

I first heard Frank about five years ago when his album “Tape Deck Heart” came out. The hit single “Recovery”  was a free download single of the week off iTunes when they use to do that.

I was immediately hooked! My long time readers and viewers on YouTube know this already though as I went into that in THIS video.

“Be More Kind” opens with the wonderfully encouraging “Don’t Worry,” which sets the tone for the entire album. We hear Frank’s signature vocals and accompanying guitar serenading us and grabbing our attention.

“Be More Kind” was released on May 4, 2018 on Xtra Miles Recordings

The beautiful music in the song uplifts and accompanies the encouraging lyrics throughout the song perfectly, and honestly I was left speechless when I first heard it.

Next up is “1933,” in which Frank addresses our frustrations with the current political and social issues such as the idiotic “Alt Right” group, Nazi’s, and blatantly corrupt politicians.

The best aspect of this song is the line “Don’t go mistaking your house burning down for the dawn.” That, and he addresses how angry and disappointed the surviving WWII era veterans and citizens must be with what’s going on.

Track after track addresses our frustrations, but also offers  a solution on how to handle them.

 

All’s not anger though. The third song on the album, “Little Changes,” talks about what a big impact we all can have just by making little changes in our lives and attitudes.

Frank himself said this is actually his favorite song on the album, and it’s up there for me too.

The title track, “Be More Kind,” is a beautiful acoustic piece encouraging us to be just that, more kind. Let’s be more kind in our interactions with each other in person and online.

 “The best way to handle that kind of communication is to keep your manners,” Turner says. “Just kill with kindness. Remind the person that you’re not just an email on a website but a human on the other end.”

My favorite song on the album is “Make America Great Again,” which is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Trump’s campaign motto. Although unlike Trump and his supporters, Turner sings about how we can actually improve and restore the country.

 “Let’s make America great again,

By making racists ashamed again”

This is not a political website however, so we’ll not get into more of that right now. I did, however, write an article awhile back about music and politics that you can read Here.

2018 is churning out some amazing albums so far, and “Be More Kind” is another one that I’ve listened to in it’s entirety several times over.

 

Regardless of your musical tastes, be you a metalhead or hip-hop all day, I want to encourage you to listen to this album. I mean really listen to it. Contemplate Frank’s lyrics and consider their meaning.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! It’s easily one of the best albums of the year thus far. In my humble opinion at least.

Check out the video below to see me do an unboxing of the “Be More Kind” vinyl bundle!

Review: Sleep “The Sciences”

Stoner Rock juggernauts Sleep are back with “The Sciences.”

Two full decades has passed since San Jose legends Sleep released their last album “Jerusalem.” 

Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. Almost the entirety of Generation Z was born since the last Sleep album!

Yet here we are in 2018 and not only do we have a new album, but we have an AMAZING new album.

I, like many others, regard the band’s 1992 release “Sleep’s Holy Mountain” as the seminal stoner rock album, and yet I feel “The Sciences” almost overshadows it!

“The Sciences” opens with an intense, 3 minute build-up song of the same name, and that kicks right into the heavy “Marijuanaut’s* Theme.” 

Each song leads seamlessly right into the next, and each one is crazier than the last!

Much like “Jerusalem” before it, “The Sciences” is only 6 songs long yet clocks in at almost an hour.

 

Heavy guitar work, crashing drums, and pounding baselines all accompany singer Al Cisneros imposing vocals perfectly in what is, perhaps, the best produced album of this year.

“The Sciences” was released on Jack White’s Third Man Records label, and has received raving reviews.  Not bad for a band that took a 20 year break!

“The Sciences” was released on April 20, 2018 on Third Man Records

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that this album will not only be remembered as one of the best this year, but I’d go as far as saying one of the best of the decade!

Only time will tell though, so we’ll see.

Check out “The Sciences”  for yourself and see what you think. It’s ab=vailable now.

*= Sleep, as with most of the bands win the “Stoner Rock” genre, utilizes a lot of cannabis imagery and references. 

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Want to check out this album before you buy it? Stream it and thousands of other songs with a free 30 Day trial of Amazon Music Unlimited!

Looking for a gift for the upcoming Graduation season, or maybe even Father’s Day? Be sure to check out my Previous Post for an amazing deal!

Soul Flowers of Titan Sees the Return of Legends

 American soul legends Barrence Whitfield & The Savages are back with “Soul Flowers of Titan.”

You know all those memes about searching for something online, and then seeing advertisements for that very thing on your social media?

That very thing happened to me, which introduced me to this album.

I was doing my usual perusal of record label websites for upcoming releases and news, as well as checking out some new music to review for you guys.

I then opened up my Instagram to check notifications, and saw an advertisement from a label called Bloodshot Records.

It caught my eye because of the record that was featured. It was a cool looking clear vinyl that came in a bright and colorful sleeve.

The link took me to Bloodshot Records’ website, and it turns out legendary R&B Soul act Barrence Whitfield and the Savages came out with a new album earlier this month.

“Soul Flowers of Titan” came out March 2, 2018 on Bloodshot Records

 

This piqued my interest, so I decided to listen to it. Now let me tell you, I was immediately impressed by this album, and I especially was drawn to the single “Let’s Go to Mars.”

It’s so cool and refreshing to hear that classic, soulful sound in the modern age of music.

 

Come to find out Barrance Whitfield & The Savages have been delivering that sound since 1984!

Now my long term readers will know I don’t usually talk about Blues music. It’s not for a dislike of the genre. I just have a history with it.

Where I grew up, all the bands were either Screamo kids, or a bunch of middle aged dudes who had a weekend band that played lazy Stevie Ray Vaughn covers.

So as a drummer, I didn’t have very many prospective outfits to join. That’s a story for another time though.

“Soul Flowers of Titan” is not only an enjoyable album to listen to, but it actually gave me a new interest in not only the band, but the genre and similar artists as well.

Titan refers to a moon that orbits the planet Saturn, which is usually associated with pain, suffering, and trials. So the album title is rather fitting for a Blues band, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve listened to the album a good amount of times now, and I can fairly say it’s one that doesn’t grow tiresome. It’s made me want to purchase that clear vinyl!

Plus, it’s always a good thing to support the artists!

You can check out the album for yourself through my Amazon Affiliate link here:

 

“Soul Flowers of Titan” may just appear on the list next time I do ANOTHER  recommendation post.

Three Year Tease

I’m going to do something a little different with this post. While reviews aren’t necessarily out of the ordinary for me, I usually review an entire album, concert, or festival. What I’ve never done before, however, is review a single song.

I will now though!

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“Red Cold River” is a  single that was released on January 5th and is available to buy and stream.

A few days ago the veteran Hard Rock band Breaking Benjamin released a single entitled “Red Cold River.” It’s the first thing we’ve seen Ben Burnley and company put out anything since the 2015 “Dark Before Dawn” which, incidentally, was their first full length studio album since 2009.

Let me start off by saying that I love the band Breaking Benjamin. I was in Junior High when they released their first album “Saturate,” and I’ve been a fan ever since. They were one of my first major concert experiences, and quite frankly they’ve maintained consistency in their sound. Sure there are a few changes here and there, but I would liken Breaking Benjamin to Megadeth in that they found their sound early on, and they’ve perfected it.

This latest single, in my opinion, is good. It’s really good. The band has stepped up the aggressiveness of their sound, and really dialed in the hard rock aspect. Much like “Dark Before Dawn,” this song, I feel, really channels lead singer Benjamin Burnley’s frustration with the way things are.

Burnley has a gift for writing songs that effectively express defeat and frustrations while not coming across whiney or sinking in to the (shudders) “Emo” category.

A few people I know write off Breaking Benjamin as a “Bro” band, which I can understand how they can have that perspective, however I don’t believe they’ve taken the time to actually sit down and really listen to their music. While obnoxious “Bro” bands like Theory of a Dead Man (grimaces), Buckcherry (feels nauseous), and Nickleback (dry heaves) write the same sounding songs about sex, partying, and excessive drinking; Breaking Benjamin songs tend to have more substance and have an air of intellectuality.

“Red Cold River” starts off in typical Breaking Benjamin fashion, and then immediately launches into an aggressive yell , heavy guitars, thundering drums, and chest-pounding bass. From beginning to end, “Red Cold River” is a hard-hitting and heavy song. While it in and of itself is a satisfying listen, it’s left me wanting more music from the band. I’m hoping that the release of this single and the tour they’re on is a signal for a new, full-length studio album.

I suppose we’ll just have to see what the band has in store for us this year.

My Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2017

Well, we made it. 2017 is about to end, and my oh my what a year it’s been! Truthfully it feels like this whole year has just blown right by me, and I can hardly believe its already over!

Before I wax poetic, however, let’s get to the reason we’re here: to talk about all the awesome music that came out this year! From farewells to triumphant returns, 2017 was an overall pretty great year for music if you think about it. So I wanted to take a moment to share with you my annual top 10 favorite albums that came out this year!

Ready? Here we go!

10. Broken Social Scene – “Hug of Thunder”

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Featuring all 15 original members of the ever shifting Indie rock band Broken Social Scene. The album features fantastic instrumentals, soothing vocals, and the songs constantly feel like they’ll explode into streamers and confetti at any given moment. I’ve been a fan of this band for many years, and I’m glad to see them release another really solid album.

9. Born of Osiris “The Eternal Reign”

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Now this album technically came out 10 years ago, but this 2017 reissue sees an epic overhaul to the death core band’s already intense release. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been on a huge metal kick lately, and Born of Osiris has been right at the forefront of that binge. I’ve always been impressed with their combination of melodic and technical musicianship, and the intense vocals that both sing and scream, I feel, really sets the band apart from others in the genre. “The Eternal Reign” gives us a fresh introduction to an already familiar sound, and if you’re into metal you should look into this one.

8. The Flaming Lips – “Oczy Mlody”

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I talked about this album at the beginning of the year in a previous post, so my readers are already familiar with my opinion of this one. While previous releases were layered with heavy distortion and white noise, “Oczy Mlody” is more atmospheric and broad with it’s sounds and electronics. Lead singer Wayne Coyne’s vocals, as unique as always, remains calm and subdued like in previous releases, however the accompanying music actually matches the calmness throughout most of the album. Something that long-time Lips fans haven’t seen since the 1990’s.

7. Alice Cooper – “Paranormal”

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Another album I’ve already gone over in a previous post. I’ve said what needs to be said about it. However, I still wanted to include it in this list because it’s definitely worth checking out and, like every other Alice Cooper release, is a lot of fun.

6. He Is Legend – “few”

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I’ve long felt that He Is Legend is a very under appreciated band. I’ve loved every one of their previous releases, and “few” was a successful crowdfunded effort. You get a feel of 90’s era rock/metal throughout in that you can head bang but also really enjoy the vocals. I think this North Carolina band should get more recognition than they do, especially for all the effort they put into every album. And clearly their fans would agree.

5. AFI – “AFI (The Blood Album)”

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I have to admit that when AFI released the single “Snow Cats” prior to the album’s debut, I was really worried we’d have another “Crash Love” on our hands. Thankfully the two additional singles that followed, “White Offerings” and “Aurelia” put that fear to rest. Sure, AFI isn’t anywhere near the band they used to be, nor does it look like we’ll ever see a true return to form on that front, but they’ve at least been releasing enjoyable music. I was satisfied with 2013’s “Burials,” and this album was played on a regular basis for quite a while after it’s initial release. With tunes like “Still A Stranger” and “Hidden Knives,” I was pleased to find that there are solid tracks on the album aside from the singles.

4. Flogging Molly – “Life is Good”

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I love Flogging Molly. I love all their albums, I love watching them play live, and I even love all three T-Shirts I have of theirs. “Life is Good” is the first full-length album release the band has put out since “Speed of Darkness” six years ago, and in that time frame you can really tell how the band channeled their every day, blue collar roots. Simultaneously folksy and driving, like previous albums, “Life Is Good” is an enjoyable and relatable listen from start to finish.

3. PVRIS – “All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell”

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It’s a rare occurrence these days to see band have a sophomore album be more successful than an already successful debut album, but PVRIS did just that with this one. Of all the albums on this list, I must admit this one impresses me the most. With darker fueled themes of anxiety and heartache, lead singer and guitarist Lynn Gunn channels the soaring vocal stylings of Florence + The Machine and combines it with the PVRIS sound we heard on their first album. “All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell” is definitely one worth checking out.

2. Foo Fighters – “Concrete and Gold”

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Foo Fighters is one of those bands that have proven time and again that they can basically do no wrong when it comes to their albums. Each one has been full of memorable hits, and “Concrete & Gold” is no exception. Even with the official addition of a full-time keyboard player, Foo Fighters serve as a constant reminder that Rock is not dead; it’s thriving.

1. Queens of the Stone Age – “Villains”

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Come on, are you really surprised at my number one pick? My readers and YouTube subscribers were probably already expecting “Villains” to be at the top of this list. This album has seriously not left my car since I got it, and I have yet to tire of it. The band has a knack for changing up overall sound of each of their albums, and yet every single one has that undeniable Queens of the Stone Age feel to it. “Villains” kicks off with the amazingly catchy “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” and dives right into the album’s first single “The Way You Use To Do” without missing a beat. The second single, “The Evil Has Landed” which is subsequently my favorite song on the album, has this amazingly catchy and driving end to it that makes you want to get up and dance! I can’t dance, but it makes me want to nonetheless. So yeah, “Villains,” check it out.

Well there you have it. My favorite albums of 2017. It’s been an…interesting year to say the least, but we saw some fantastic music this year and I’m optimistic about 2018 because of it.

What are some of your favorite albums from 2017? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow me on YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram to see all the fun things I’ve got planned for the coming year!

The Sky is A Neighborhood

I think something we can all agree on as of late is the questionable integrity of the music industry. All of the big labels seem to be forgoing legitimate talent in order to capitalize on trends. Quantity over quality I suppose.

The latest strike against the big labels comes from Atlantic, who recently gave a record deal to the “Cash me outside” girl, who is 13 years old and has absolutely NOTHING to do with the music industry prior. She’s a trend, and Atlantic just wants money.

Seems like a rather dismal and defeatist way to start a post, but all is not lost! We’ve seen a turnout of some pretty decent albums so far this year from bands like The Flaming Lips and PVRIS. Last month we saw a heavy hitter from the Rock re-enter the fight with Queens of the Stone Age releasing their fantastic album “Villains,” and now we have another contender coming in swinging.

 

Foo Fighters have released a new album.

 

Dave Grohl and the gang are back with “Concrete & Gold,” further proving that good rock music is still alive and kicking.

Now, I must make a confession here: I was skeptical when I saw a promotional picture of the band prior to the release of the album. I saw a new member, and he’s a keyboardist. As my friends know, I’m very skeptical about bands officially adding keyboardists. Nothing agains the musicians themselves, however usually when an established rock band adds one their sound changes to more of a generic pop sound.

Thankfully, this was not the case.

Foo Fighters have had keyboardists playing with them in the background for years now, but never officially added one to the lineup. Upon further examination of the photo, I realized I was looking at Rami Jaffee. Rami was part of the Wallflowers, and has worked with acts like Coheed & Cambria, Soul Asylum, and even Stonesour.

So, that kind of put me at ease.

Now that the album is out and I’ve listened through it about ten times already, all my worries have gone out the window. Grohl knows what he’s doing. He always knows.

There’s no trace of over-synthed beats and loops, no “uhn-tiss uhn-tiss” dance beats, and NO dubstep drops to be seen. No, “Concrete & Gold” is a legitimate Foo Fighters release from beginning to end.

The Foos have an amazing knack for expanding their sound, while simultaneously staying true to themselves. You hear a track like the single “Run,” and you think to yourself “Yep, that’s Foo Fighters alright.” Then you hear a song like “Dirty Water” and it sounds like someone took the best elements of Foo Fighters and mashed it together with the best elements of Metric and blessed us with this tune.

It’s actually funny. I was watching the Foo Fighters’ documentary “Back and Forth” and I kept saying “Oh man, I really like that song” and “Yeah that one too!” Throughout the whole thing, and the I realized something: there really isn’t any Foo Fighters songs I dislike.

I thought that was kind of odd, since there’s usually something by bands I don’t like. For instance: most of the recent releases from Smashing Pumpkins, and some of the songs off of Interpol’s self titled album. And that’s saying something because I love BOTH of those bands!

So I asked around to some of my musician friends, and was surprised to hear they all pretty much agreed with me. It seems like the Foos can do little wrong when it comes to their albums, and this one is no exception. It’s a little different, but it’s still undeniably a true Foo Fighters album.

Check out “Concrete & Gold,” the band’s ninth studio album, available in stores and online now.

The Evil Has Landed

Last month acid rock pioneers Queens of the Stone Age released their seventh studio album entitled “Villains.”

Being a huge fan of the band, I had pre-ordered the vinyl release and did my first video of me unboxing my order. (You can see the video Here )

There are few albums that I immediately fall in love with. It usually takes me a solid three or four listen through to really evaluate it and gauge how much I like it. This was not the case with “Villains.”

I had so much hype and anticipation built up for this album upon receiving two of the songs to listen to early. The first single off the album “The Way You Use To Do” as well as “The Evil Has Landed.” Man oh man, was I not disappointed.

I immediately loved both songs, and upon receiving the album I knew it was going to be added to the favorite list. From the the opening track “Feet Don’t Fail Me” with its Led Zeppelin-esque sounding guitars and bass work, to the punctuated “Domesticated Animals” all the way to the ending track “Villains of Circumstances,” this album is probably one of the most solid and well-produced ones to be released this year.

QotSA is one of those few bands that changes up their sound enough to where no two albums really sound the same, and yet they maintain that signature Queens of the Stone Age feel. I attribute this to the constant lineup change. The band is always changing up members, but this is due to a revolving door policy and not drama. Each member brings in a new flair, and it only enhances the band’s legacy.

I feel like that really shines through on “Villains.” The co-operative guitar energy between frontman Josh Homme and QotSA veteran member Troy van Leeuwen is so solid and on point, that the addition of guitarist Dean Fertita enriches the overall sound in a way that feels completely natural.

Overall, “Villains” marks a fantastic addition to the band’s already impressive discography, and I would highly recommend to veteran fans and newcomers alike.

Check out “Villains” available now in store and online.

The Master of Shock Rock is Back

1969.

LOT happened in that year.

Man landed on the moon, The Beatles released “Abbey Road,” as well as gave their final live performance atop Apple Records, and let’s not forget Woodstock.

Something else happened of major significance in the year 1969, however. Something that would literally cause a major change in music History.

The album “Pretties for You” was released.

It was the Psychedelic debut album from vocalist Vincent Furnier, lead guitarist Glenn Buxton, rhythm guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neil Smith.

Or, as they were more known as, Alice Cooper.

2017. A full forty-eight years after “Pretties for You” was released, and Alice Cooper (Furnier’s adopted alias and now solo outfit) has released his 27th studio album entitled “Paranormal.”

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10 brand new songs, 2 new songs with some of the original members, and 6 bonus live versions of Cooper classics 

This album, I’ve got to say, rocks pretty hard. The album has a harder feel to it, yet still rings true to the classic Cooper sound.

What impresses me the most about Alice Cooper is that very fact, actually. A lot of these guys that have been around 30-40+ years have a tendency to sound less creative, they sound generic, and often times downright cheesy. *cough* Aerosmith *cough* Yet Alice Cooper stays true to form while simultaneously adapting to the changing world around him.

Sure, there are a few tracks that feel slightly cheesy, but then again name me an Alice Cooper album that doesn’t have at least one track like that. Come on now, it’s Alice Cooper. The Godfather of Shock Rock. The Villain of Rock ‘n Roll. I think we can make an exception here.

Let’s not forget that he still puts on amazing and theatric stage shows, while his younger counterparts have grown lazy and scaled theirs back. *cough* Marilyn Manson *cough*

Will “Paranormal” stand the test of time and go down as one of Cooper’s masterpieces? Most likely not. Is it still worth listening to, adding to your collection, and a legitimate addition to Alice Cooper’s 40 year legacy? Absolutely.

Kill for Candy – Dreamcar Debut

 The self titled debut album for Dreamcar is finally here, and its better than expected. The super group that’s essentially No Doubt but with Dave Havok of AFI instead of Gwen Stefani on vocals brings a retro twist on a modern vibe. Channeling the pop and new wave sounds of the 80’s, Dreamcar brings a refreshingly unique sound to the table. It seriously sounds like something Richard Blade would’ve played on KROQ.

 While the decade of decadence often brings images of over teased hair and and grown men in leopard spandex, Dreamcar expertly channels the sound and feel of the era without seeming cheesy or gimmicky. 
 Which isn’t really that surprising considering the band’s line up. All the members are veteran performers that have been going strong since the 90’s, and while Dreamcar is composed of primarily No Doubt Members and Davey, their sound is a pleasant departure from that of their respective band’s. 
 Although let’s be honest, AFI has changed their sound enough times that we pretty much have to generically label them as just rock at this point. 


 Speaking of AFI, I was actually rather surprised that Dreamcar has released their debut album a mere 3 months after AFI released “The Blood Album.” Davey must really be turning into a workaholic! However, it is kinda refreshing to see him in a music project without AFI guitarist Jade Puget. Havok and Puget have collaborated not only on AFI, but electronic outfit Blaqk Audio and hardcore straight edge band XTRMST. 
 It’s also nice to see that Adrian Young and the boys of No Doubt haven’t gone Gwen’s route of pop/faux hip-hop that her solo work is known for. 
 Overall, Dreamcar delivers an enjoyable listening experience through and through that really Gen X-ers would enjoy this album just as much as their Millennial counterparts. My mom & dad are really into their 80’s music, but I feel like Dreamcar is an album they can enjoy just as much.