Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blink-182: Neighborhoods (2011)

“Neighborhoods” is Blink-182’s first album in nine years and it is well known as soon as the album begins you feel like you're listening to a new era of Blink-182 music, long gone are the silly song titles and album titles.

What you're given is a rejuvenated band with a new message and style, it does seem Blink-182 has grown up after all. Now Tom Delonge has incorporated his sounds from Angels &Airwaves into this album since it is his other band he had formed during Blink’s hiatus but at the same time, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker formed +44 around the same Delonge formed Angels & Airwaves.

Angels & Airwaves are still together and have a new album out for November, +44 are on hiatus for the time being but would love to make another album whenever possible.

As for the album, “Neighborhoods” it was well worth that wait, from the opening track Ghost on the Dance Floor, Delonge’s influence on the album is well noted with the space rock airy sound the song conveys while the song brings back classic blink lyrics of lost love and missed opportunities

Barker’s drumming is sensational throughout the album setting the perfect tone and beat and rhythm to every song on the album not to mention he absolutely just goes all out on the drums through the album.

Sprinkled in are songs all Blink fans will love from Natives to Snake Charmer to Wishing Well, it’s the perfect meshing of the new Blink-182 and the old Blink-182. The overall theme of the album is somewhat dark compared to former albums with songs dealing with personal demons, temptation, regret and lost hope but the lyrics are so powerful and work so well, in the end it’s one of the albums strong suits.

My favorite track on the album is Kaleidoscope which has a beautiful chorus that Delonge sings "It's the first time that I'm worried of a bad dream of a journey on the highway through the valley, It's a long road through the night, It's a long road to get it right". I just love that chorus because it sums up the bands hiatus perfectly and I think the song is about Blink’s past which was a long road to get right and I think they finally got on the right path.

“Neighborhoods” is a new mature darker Blink-182 but old or new fans alike, I recommend this album. If you like classic Blink-182 you’ll find something you’ll like, If you like the newer experimental Blink-182 and their side projects, then this album should be one you check out. Either way, you can’t go wrong because this album was well worth the wait.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Primus- Green Naugahyde (2011)

Primus are back with their first full-length album after nearly twelve years and approximately 4,700 Les Claypool side projects. Green Naugahyde marks a return to form for the band in more way than one. Original drummer Jay Lane is back and is finally on his first Primus recording featuring original songs (no, Riddles Are Abound Tonight doesn’t count). According to Claypool, Lane was the one who wrote many of the drum parts in Primus’ early albums, and this should be of no surprise to anybody who has listened to this album. Lane’s playing is reminiscent of Tim Alexander, the man who pounded the skins on the band’s first four albums. But the similarities to their early work don’t end there. Les and Ler are back to doing what made them famous, but of course you can’t really revisit the past.

The first reports of Green Naugahyde described it as being similar to the band’s debut album Frizzle Fry. This was welcome news to me as that is my favorite Primus album but I was skeptical they would make an album that conventional (relatively conventional, of course). Frizzle Fry is Primus’ most metal-sounding album and features the least flashy bass playing from Claypool. For large chunks of songs he and the guitar are playing the same patterns, which becomes a rarity on later albums. On Green Naugahyde? Not so much. On this one Claypool is his flashy self and uses some of the same tones on his very out-there solo album Of Fungi and Foe. That’s not to say he is above riffs, however. Many of the patterns are repeated and some of the best riffs are done with his patented Flamenco strumming, which were especially highlighted in their early albums.

No, Claypool doesn’t follow the guitar like on their debut (Or was it the guitar that followed him? Eh, that’s not important). But why should he? That was over twenty years ago. Claypool gave a very poignant quote in Rolling Stone last June:

A song like ‘Jilly's on Smack’ just wouldn't have been written in the early Nineties, because we hadn't lost a friend to heroin addiction. A song like ‘Lee Van Cleef’ which is reflective of my youth just wouldn't have been written back then.

Yes, they are still Primus. But in the last twenty years they have learned lessons, musical and otherwise, that have helped shape their sound.

Don’t let that last paragraph discourage you. This is most certainly a Primus album. Who else but Primus can get away with a song called “Eyes of the Squirrel?” Claypool’s not-too-specific-but-still funny social commentary is back with songs like “Moron TV” and “Eternal Consumption Engine,” and we even get a new installment the Fisherman’s Chronicles. And just like a Primus album, it loses steam near the end. I could have done without “Extinction Burst” and I probably would have been okay with missing “HOINFODAMAN” and “Green Ranger.” But still, eight good songs out of eleven is not a bad ratio. Green Naugahyde is a little bit of the same and a little bit different, which is to say that is a lot different than anything else you’ll hear this year.