Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Review: Benard/Worn in Red - Split 7"

Label: Alaska Records/No Breaks

Released: July 2008

If one word could describe this 7", it would be visceral. Nothing seems calculated or planned. Benard blasts through two songs of dissonance, frantic rhythms and pure passion in just under five and a half minutes. In that short time, they leave everything out there, their hearts on their post-hardcore sleeves.

Saying that Worn in Red is less intense than Benard is kind of like saying the Hiroshima blast was less intense than the Bravo explosion. Both will obliterate you. Still, Worn in Red reins it in ever so slightly, resulting in something a bit more fluid, ebbing and flowing (and then hitting you over the head).

The result is a great split with two bands that are on the same page, but perhaps a different paragraph. Both have full-throttle energy with Benard hitting a bit harder and Worn in Red a bit more dynamically.

Satriani: 7/10
Zappa: 6/10
Dylan: 6/10
Aretha: 8/10
Overall: 7/10


Worn In Red:

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Review: Bruce Springsteen - Working on a Dream

Label: Columbia

Released: January 27, 2009

"The Wrestler" is the bonus track on Springsteen's latest album, Working on a Dream. It's a honest tale set to poignant music. It connects in the way we expect Springsteen to connect. However, it is appropriately labeled as bonus material, because it really doesn't fit the rest of the album.

The strings on the opener, "Outlaw Pete," are a bit much. "Mr Lucky Day" is a good mainstream rocker, but lacks any real humanity. Springsteen finally connects on "Queen of the Supermarket," even getting away with some corny lyrical ideas that only he could pull off, but as the song builds, it too becomes more a caricature of Springsteen than the real deal. And it couldn't get much worse than "Kingdom of Days" which would sadly need little reworking for Muzak.

All isn't lost though. The rootsy "Good Eye" features better, subtler playing than is typically found on a Springsteen record. The Boss' take on Johnny Cash in the verses of "Life Itself" serve him well. At first, "Surprise, Surprise" seems like light pop, but it feels good and true. Juxtaposing it with "The Last Carnival," a darker, lower-key closer that mixes folk and a heavenly backup chorus, strengthens both songs and ends on a note more along the lines of the best that can be expected from the last 20 years of Springsteen's career.

Comparing Working on a Dream to anything in Springsteen's prime is just unfair. However, just over a year ago, he managed to dig down and churn out a decent album that didn't come across as a comfortable old man trying to relive what he found on Nebraska. There are enough good songs here to indicate that his well isn't dry, it's just no longer as deep as it once was and an album every year and a half might just be too much at this stage.

Satriani: 6/10
Zappa: 5/10
Dylan: 6/10
Aretha: 5/10
Overall: 5/10

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Video: U2 - "Out of Control"

One of my favs.

It's hard to believe they were once a little band playing clubs.

Then they grew...

And grew...

And grew...


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

SideOneDummy Records is very proud to welcome Broadway Calls as the newest band on the SideOneDummy roster!

January 5, 2009 - Los Angeles, CA - Broadway Calls are a power trio from Rainier, Oregon, which is about one hour north of Portland and has a population of just under 2000 people.

In the tradition of bands like Jawbreaker, Green Day, The Jam and Alkaline Trio, Broadway Calls craft songs that are filled with gritty guitar, breakneck drums, infectious hooks and unforgettable choruses that captivate any ear that gives them two minutes and thirty seconds of a chance.

The band is made up of Ty Vaughn (guitar/vocals), Josh Baird (drums) and Matt Koenig (bass). Adeline Records released the band's debut self-titled record in early 2008 and they played the Vans Warped Tour all summer! A fall tour with Polar Bear Club and Crime in Stereo followed. Shows with Rancid, Alkaline Trio and Bad Religion rounded out their year.

2009 promises to be a monumental year for Broadway Calls. They will be touring with Alkaline Trio as direct support on their February UK/ European tour and will be going into the studio to track songs for a late summer release on SideOneDummy Records! Stay tuned.



Thursday, January 01, 2009

Review: Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Sunday at Devil Dirt

Label: Fontana International

Released: November 11, 2008

There aren't many albums as low-key as Sunday at Devil Dirt. Every movement of the album is so subtle that it's difficult to discern. The first two tracks, "Seafaring Song and "The Raven," seem more like movie soundtrack material than the road into a dynamic album, but they set the sparse scene for the album's first stand-alone song, "Salvation," which makes it clear that this album searches and journeys. Throughout though, it does maintain the feel of a soundtrack (albeit of a very good movie), with songs like the jazzy, cabaret "Back Burner" providing segues in the story. None of these are filler in the traditional sense though. They're very strong tracks taken in context and enhance the songs they act as a bridge between as well as the album as a whole.

It's easy to think that Sunday at Devil Dirt is dominated by Lanegan's deep, rough echoes of Johnny Cash, Jim Morrison and Iggy Pop (and some would say Tom Waits, but Lanegan has a true quality that escapes the novelty of Waits' work). That gritty earthiness is the album's grounding. However, countering that is Campbell's thin, ethereal, almost angelic, yet sexy voice. The two together set the tone for the turmoil that exists between heavenly salvation and earthly struggle. These two contrasting voices find their way through the sparse musical scenes that range from subtle strings to folk to dirty jazz and blues. As carefully constructed as the album is, Campbell has written, and performed with Lanegan, a work that is intensely human in both disillusionment and hope. I wish someone would make the movie to go with this, because there's something greater than even this album in there.

Satriani: 7/10
Zappa: 7/10
Dylan: 9/10
Aretha: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

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