Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

JR #01: NEVER FAIL & PxHxT – Split 7″

Two different bands, the same record, 6 new tracks.

There was no better way to officialy start a record label intended to have no barriers, than with a record that mixes styles, sonorities and messages. NEVER FAIL and PxHxT prove in this record that what matters the most is people, leaving differences on the background and uniting themselves with Juicy to release a threesome record, but with a single idea. Crossover baby.

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LOVE LET ME GO

There is only one way to listen to this record properly: wait for a rainy day and sit in a dark room, lights out. Turn the volume as high as your machine can go.

Many have called this band the European hardcore hype of the year, and judging by the general response to the record I’d say this is probably true…but what do I give a fuck. More Than Life first caught my attention with the Brave Enough to Fail EP, which quickly became one of the most played discs on my collection, and with this brand new LP they accomplished the not so easy task to grab my attention again, to the point that I now hear this record at least once a week, for several weeks now.

Love Let Me Go follows the line of their previous release, not only in the simple/minimalist/duotone artwork, but also in terms of intensity. Grey is the colour, both graphically and lyrically, and in this album we find more melody and “crying” choruses than ever.
This is melodic hardcore on its highest exponential, taking references of the past and adding that ne sais quoi to the mix. This album sounds like everything it should be: mature, with more straight-forward tracks, leaving the more indie/ambiental multi-layered guitar riffs to fill in specific moments in specific tracks, which are cleverly  distributed along the record.

Have in mind that is not a Summer record, these are the blues from the Grey Island where the sun is always shy. This is Winter and cold grabbing onto our greatest fears. Love Let Me has only 3 main topics: love failure, death and the absence of light.

This record will depress you, make you think about everything you fucked up on your personal life…this is music to bring back old feelings. But that’s what carves it so deep in the soul. Like Brave Enough to Fail, you can relate it with specific moments in your life, like a soundtrack to memories wrapped in pain.

“Nothing will bring me back to life, the reapers grip so tight”.

Curiosities:

The track “Blue Eyes Black Eyed” has no lyrics on the LP…lack of space or artistic choice?
The photography on the album is from Allan Barnes, who has a nice portfolio.

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MORE THAN LIFE MYSPACE

JUICY RECORDS

Juicy Records begins to leave its mark in 2010. Not to reinvent, nor to divide in worthless categories of genres and aesthetics, but to serve as a platform for projects that transport contents through music.

Music with content is music that transmits something. Values, messages, emotions, stories…all of these have been brought to us over many years by music, and now it’s time to gather some friends and give something back.

It’s official, JUICY RECORDS, my own record label, is out. Check the site for all the relevant info.

You may or may not have heard about it in the last couple of weeks, you may or may not have helped me in some way to put it together, but right now it feels good just to see it take form.

Some people have asked me why am I doing this, why drag my money, my time and my energies on something that can  be a total failure just by looking at the state of things nowadays…my answer: I’m just doing me, I’m just following an old dream and creating something to share with everyone.

All my life I have been inspired by music. Not only by the bands playing on stage, their words, but also by the  people standing on the backstages, working hard to make things happen. I have been on both sides, but most of the time I am just a kid in front of a stage waiting for that burst of sound that makes me feel alive…to all those kids, I bring JUICY RECORDS to life.

It’s kinda my way to say thank-you to hardcore and music in general. It was all a dream…but maybe it is finally coming true.

JUICY RECORDS WEBSITE

JUICY RECORDS MYSPACE

JUICY RECORDS FACEBOOK

Great expectations…

…sometimes lead to big disappointments. This is a post ’bout 4 albums that let me down this year.

ClipseTil The Casket Drops

To me this was an album anticipated for almost the whole year, and I was really thinking they were gonna drop a bomb like the previous record, but as soon as the first tracks started leaking, I knew something was wrong.

The mistakes made are mainly in the choice of the beats…the production sounds like everything else out there, tracks are disconnected and ruin the flow of the album.
It’s common sense that nowadays The Neptunes don’t make such fresh stuff as in the days of Hell Hath No Fury, but still they should come up with more than this, and Pusha and Malice should have a better ear. Some songs sound like there was no big effort put in them, even in the lyrics…and the songs that were made singles and that I’ve posted before over here, when heard in the context of the album don’t even stand out.
Read a more complete review here.

RakimThe Seventh Seal

This album is just a sad story from beginning to end.
Again, the production ruins most of the deal. Worthless guest singers and samples that should not even be considered (No Doubt? what the fuck?), but Rakim also sounds tired and uninspired in some tracks. After reading the review on Pitchfork (link below) I came to admire his integrity for choosing not to work with Dr. Dre, but this is Rakim we’re talking about and he deserves nothing but greatness in everything he puts his voice in, this is one of the true “greatest rappers of all time”.

If you’re a Rakim fan, do yourself a favor and pretend this album never existed. Yes it’s still the God MC and he still spits with that perfect technique, but to hear just good lyrics I prefer to go back when he had also great beats.
Read a more complete review here.

Kid Sister – Ultraviolet

Also very anticipated for me, but also a flop. This album is what I call a 50/50.
50% of it has that feeling and tracks that I was expecting from this artist, and then the other 50% are just a fuck up. The funky and technological beats (“54321”), some of them already old and used on other releases (“Get Fresh”, “Control”), are clearly Kid Sis comfort zone, even when the Pop element is more present (“Life On TV”), but whenever she tries to reach out another type of stuff, the result is terrible.

Tracks like “Daydreaming” and “You Ain’t Really Down” don’t sound good, cause the girl can’t sing. She can rap in her own style, and make perfect party music, but someone should have told her that she can’t sing.  “Big N Bad” is also one big and bad mistake, mainly due to the chorus sample…revivalism has limits.
This is an album that has some good tunes for the dancefloor, I can already predict great remixes coming out of it, but as a release that took 2 or 3 years in the making, it’s just weak and emotionless.
Read a more complete review here.

BlakRoc BlakRoc

Another 50/50. What seemed a really interesting project with everything to become one of the best musical experiences of the year, comes out competent, but lacking emphasis and feeling.
I agree with Ian Cohen in his review on Pitchfork (link below), saying that “BlakRoc often comes off as a resolutely sober affair – mutual respect leads to no on stepping on each other’s toes or letting loose”, but more than that, it has a duality in the flow, and specially in terms of the quality of the artists involved.

While tracks like “Ain’t Nothing Like You” and “Hope You’re Happy” surprised me (specially Jim Jones and Q-Tip respectively), and others confirmed the quality I was expecting (Raekwon and RZA’s tracks), there’s stuff in this album that should never have left the studio.
Who the fuck is NOE and who the fuck is he fooling with the emulated Jay-Z flow? Even the vocal pitch is similar…c’mon, I can’t believe Dame Dash made the mistake of getting this dude in 2 tracks. And that Ludacris and ODB song…terrible. It just sounds awkward and misplaced in every way, nothing works in that song and Ludacris had much more to offer than that. As for ODB, just let him rest in peace.

Like I said, it’s a competent album, but it has too much skip tracks, and that’s never good.
Read a more complete review here.

I condensed the reviews not only cause the albums were not worthy of single posts for each, but also cause this way I get more synthetic in my opinions and I give you readers the chance to click on the links from Pitchfork and read more elaborated and “righteous” critics that I mainly agree with.

Lost Ground

From time to time, an hardcore band surprises me.

Defeater‘s first release, titled Travels, went straight to my music archives almost unnoticed…I mean, it had the intensity and the sense of desperation that I love in this sort of bands, the lyrics of that record are enclosing enough to keep one interested, but it just didn’t have an impact on me.
Last week, I downloaded their new Lost Ground EP, played it on my way to work on a rainy afternoon, and felt like I had been dragged into a sea of angst…every guitar riff, every screamed line sounded like an ongoing struggle of feelings. It felt like a big stone had instantly hit my head.
But the best part ’bout this EP is the drums…it’s been a really long while since I heard a drummer actually having his “say” on every track of a record. The rhythms and breaks from tracks like “The Bite and Sting” and “A Wound and Scar” totally blew me away and changed my perception of the quality of this band.

Lost Ground really changed my view of this band. It has the perfect length and I can’t find a weaker song to point out in this record, it is so good that I will give their LP another chance.

It’s good to hear something different, not that they have the most distinct sound ever or have reinvented the rules of hardcore music, but they have the quality and the attitude to stand out from all the other bands in the same genre.
If you like melodic hardcore (with quality) and got sad ’bout Have Heart calling it quits, than this is a band for you. If you are not convinced, check out the show they gave this year on a town very near my home (don’t mind the apathy of the public, just pay attention to the band):


DEFEATER MYSPACE

COLD ONES/MR. MIYAGI “Double Trouble” SPLIT 7″

No limited vinyl colors, no alternative covers…just a black vinyl and a folded paper sheet with all the artwork and lyrics.
When it comes down to Mr. Miyagi, what you see is what you get. But actually with this record, I got more than I was expecting.

First of all, this 7″ has an uncommonly big number of tracks. Nine tracks for 3£ is a real bargain, even having in mind that these bands deliver nothing but fast tempo tunes.

But the best surprise in this split is actually on the side A. The only thing I knew ’bout Cold Ones (CO) was their name, but as soon as their music started roaring from my speakers, I turned into a close listener, and after 2 songs I was  already into it. Very into it.
In their 5 tracks on this split, CO manage to bring out what I like in punk music (and I’m not a big fan of the genre) and mix it with a very distinctive groove, with some clear hardcore influences. I got particularly pleased with the singer, who delivers intensity and gives life to the rocky riffs, making you want to sing-along in every single track…in some parts he reminded me of both Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) and John Joseph (Cro-Mags).

Mr. Miyagi, the reason why I bought this record in the first place, bring 4 new songs filled with their crazy guitar riffs and insanely fast drums, but right on the first track came my second surprise: a sample from Scarface and some 2-step grooves? Could it be? Yes, and it sounds good.
Following the first track, they turn on the rage discharger even higher and the fast rhythm almost never stops. The attitude is identical to the LP (reviewed here): pissed-off lyrics, a big fuck-you to the world and a skateboarding obsession. All the ingredients that originally made me a fan of this band.

Bottom line, it’s a very solid release. Musically both bands deliver great tracks, and you really feel you payed a cheap but rightful price for the 7″. Another positive aspect is the artwork, simple but effective and completely reflecting the spirit of both bands. The illustration on the cover kicks ass.

BUY THE RECORD

MR. MIYAGI MYSPACE

COLD ONES MYSPACE

The Blueprint 3

After some posts anticipating this album, I felt kinda like compromised to review it over here.

Being this Jay-Z’s 11th studio album, and the third in the Blueprint saga, which alone represents some of his best albums, the bar was clearly high for this release.
Sadly, The Blueprint 3 barely passes the average line. The singles, as usual in mainstream music, lead you into thinking this might surely be a rightful successor to American Gangster, but as soon as you press the play button, you discover that this record isn’t set up for greatness.

The record starts off weak, and we only start hearing something really good on the third track, the already known D.O.A. After this, everything turns into a big mess.

Where “Empire State of Mind”, probably my favorite track, delivers consistency, a nice melody and a great chorus sang by Alicia Keys, the vast majority of the following tracks deliver empty contents and disconnected production.
The track produced by Swizz Beatz has nothing to do with nothing, everything done by Timbaland on this album sounds like played-out-second-choice-beats that probably only stuck to the retail version due to his name as a producer, and same goes for Pharrell…the only one that manages to bring something useful to the whole thing is (obviously) Kanye West, who practically is the savior of the flow of the record. Still he ruins his work with the track “Hate”, completely misplaced and full of gibberish lyrics.

But not all is bad.
Lyrically, tracks like “A Star Is Born” and “Venus Vs. Mars” show a Jay-Z that can go metaphorical and do more than brag ’bout his money and star status. And the last track revealed itself as nice surprise, with the more futuristic production of Kanye West serving as a beautiful layer for some honest words from a man now entering his middle-age. I could almost swear that he did this last joint on freestyle, specially the last minute.

Final words: the failures in terms of production are balanced by the few really good lyrical tracks and some nice efforts done by Kanye on his tracks. Don’t get fooled by the marketing machine and the hyped artists collaborations, it’s not Hova at his best, but it’s still a record that will keep you entertained for a week or two.

JAY-Z MYSPACE