Category: Music

Album Review: A Day To Remember “Common Courtesy”

adaytorememberA Day to Remember’s long awaited fifth studio album Common Courtesy was released digitally in early October of last year but didn’t hit iTunes or record shops until right before Thanksgiving—and fans of the metalcore band were extremely thankful.

Common Courtesy was written over the course of two years beginning in 2010 and was recorded from 2012-2013 in vocalist Jeremy McKinnon’s home studio in Florida. The band and their record label were entangled in a legal battle and the reason for the digital-only release in October was based on the lack of a label.

On October 4, A Day to Remember was notified that they won against their label in court and released the album digitally four days later. The physical copy that was self-released on November 25 contained three bonus tracks and this is the version that I have reviewed today.

A Day to Remember pays homage to their hometown of Ocala, Fla. in the opening track and then delves headlong into hardcore tracks ‘Right Back At It Again’ and ‘Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re The Nail.’ Fans of shredding guitars, pulsating rhythms and thunderous growls will be pleased with ‘Right’ and ‘Hammer.’

McKinnon’s melodic vocals on Common Courtesy are a welcome addition that crosses over into the pop-punk genre. Tracks like ‘Best of Me’ and ‘I’m Already Gone’ are radio-friendly songs with the latter reminiscent of the Foo Fighters recent music.

Violence (Enough is Enough) is already over a year old and still holds up today as strong as when it was released in December, 2012 as the first single. In an interview with Revolver magazine, McKinnon explained ‘Violence’

I was just trying to talk about different perspectives from the world and why people do terrible things to each other. It started out, to me, feeling like you’re helpless. It felt like everything is so much bigger than you–there are people above you no matter where you go. That kind of control of what you can and can’t do. It’s really not meant to be political as it might sound–that’s just never been our band. But it’s that feeling that things are out of your hands. I wanted it to have this dark, ominous feeling.

The next track ‘Life @ 11’ returns to the pop-punk genre resembling Blink-182 with McKinnon’s harmonizing and Alex Shelnutt’s pounding drums. ‘I Surrender’ is another radio-friendly track that was written several years ago but was re-worked for the album. The hardest songs, in my opinion, ‘Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way’ and ‘The Document Speaks for Itself’  follow up the pop songs to let you know that ADTR still knows how to growl and shred with the best of them.

It is rare to see a band put forth a release that is a general improvement over past releases. A Day to Remember has been to hell and back while writing, recording and releasing Common Courtesy so that one can almost feel their tumultuous journey. The formulaic mix of pop-punk and metalcore blend together well on this album ranging from sing-alongs to mosh invitations.

If you are looking for an album that hits all  parts of the rock spectrum, buy this album and “Brace for Impact.”

http://www.adtr.com 

 

ADTR-CCTrack Listing

  1. City of Ocala
  2. Right Back At It Again
  3. Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail
  4. Dead & Buried
  5. Best Of Me
  6. I’m Already Gone
  7. Violence (Enough is Enough)
  8. Life @ 11
  9. I Surrender
  10. Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way
  11. End of Me
  12. The Document Speaks for Itself
  13. I Remember
  14. Good Things
  15. Same Book But Never the Same Page

 

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Album Review: Five Finger Death Punch ‘The Wrong Side of Heaven and The Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 2’

5fdp-main-3web-e1389913615738Five Finger Death Punch started working on The Wrong Side of Heaven and The Righteous Side of Hell in early 2013, but there was just so much awesome rock left over that they decided to ‘Use Their Illusions’ and release a second album of the remaining tracks just four months later.

“We came off the road after a couple of great years of touring and were really amped up to write the fourth record. Everybody was in the right headspace and the band tighter than ever, so it was a perfect storm,” guitarist Zoltan Bathory said.  “We jumped in head first and found ourselves 12-13 songs deep fairly quick, but were still coming up with better and better material so we looked at each other and said… okay why stop there?… let’s keep going.”

Fortunately for lovers of metal music, the second helping of hardcore head-banging was not relegated to just leftovers. The first single, “Battle Born,” proves that 5FDP has the ability to crossover into the mainstream rock audience while still maintaining their metal cred. The guys simply know how to create rock radio-friendly music, from anthems like “Cold,” which uses piano and strings accompaniment, to pounding, growling vocals in the opening tracks “Here to Die” and “Weight Beneath My Sin.” If I had to choose the next single to be released, it would definitely be “Wrecking Ball.” Fret not, metal-heads, it has nothing to do with Miley Cyrus and would crush her twerking ass.

5FDP_WSOH2The Wrong Side of Heaven and The Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 2 has everything that you can imagine from a metal band; hard-driving rhythms, blistering guitars, monster drum solos and lead singer Ivan Moody has the ability to growl and hit higher notes in the blink of an eye. Five Finger Death Punch gently walks the line of being too commercially successful for purists of the heavy metal genre, but the groove put forth on both volumes will make even the biggest metal fan throw up the horns.

For those that look to bands who cover classic tracks, 5FDP does a masterful job on The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” with amazing lead guitar work from Bathory. “The Agony of Regret” is a haunting, instrumental track and a departure from what people know of 5FDP and will surprise many fans on their first listen.

My two favorite tracks on the album are “Let This Go” and “A Day in My Life” with insane drum/rhythm guitar intros and great riffs and solid groove throughout.  “Cradle to the Grave” has entirely too much going on in one song though, while “My Heart Lied” doesn’t have enough, making the two tracks my least favorites, but they work well as album filler.

Five Finger Death Punch is one of the most ardent, dedicated bands when it comes to bringing the music to their fans with their relentless touring. They head off to Australia next month and then hit Europe in March and April with an arsenal of 24 new hard-rocking, arena-tailored songs created to incite a frenzy and rock your face off.

Track Listing

  1. “Here to Die”
  2. “Weight Beneath My Sin”
  3. “Wrecking Ball”
  4. “Battle Born”
  5. “Cradle to the Grave”
  6. “Matter of Time”
  7. “The Agony of Regret”
  8. “Cold”
  9. “Let This Go”
  10. “My Heart Lied”
  11. “A Day in My Life”
  12. “House of the Rising Sun”

Album Review: Pearl Jam ‘Lightning Bolt’

PJam Lightning

Pearl Jam’s 10th offering proves that the innovators of Seattle’s grunge movement still know how to pack a punch. It took over four years for Eddie Vedder and the boys to release ‘Lightning Bolt’ and the wait was definitely worth it.

Since the 1991 release of ‘Ten’, Pearl Jam has defied all the odds that often plague rock bands; the lineup has stayed intact, save for their drummer, Mike Cameron who has only been with Pearl Jam for 15 years. This brotherhood lends to great cohesiveness that shows through on every track on ‘Lightning Bolt.’

At first listen, the album begins with full-on punk rock tracks with short, hard-hitting numbers ‘Getaway’ and ‘Mind Your Manners’. The band flexes also their creative muscles with Pink Floyd influenced tracks ‘Sirens’ and ‘Infallible’ which have a deep, almost psychedelic groove to them that still satisfy the rock quotient

Most surprising was the power-pop anthem ‘Let the Records Play’ which hearkened back to the days when AM radio ruled the airwaves. It’s catchy, sugary-sweet pop make you forget that the song is about how alcohol and music “take away the pain.” Vedder’s knack for haunting ballads also make the cut with ‘Pendulum’ and ‘Yellow Moon’ while the love song ‘Future Days’ completes the album.

This album, as a whole provides great variety for the epic Pearl Jam live shows that have become a must for any fan of rock music or music in general, for that matter. I have grown up with Pearl Jam over the past 22 years and still vividly remember the antics of a crazy front man that opened up for little-known Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in December, 1991. I fell in love with the band that played live on my 25th birthday in 1993 in support of the ‘Vs.’ album and hearing ‘Lightning Bolt’ is another gift that will delight music lovers of all ages.

On the Bowers’ scale of one to five, ‘Lightning Bolt’ receives:

4.5 stars

 

 

 

Track Listing

  1. “Getaway”
  2. “Mind Your Manners”
  3. “My Father’s Son”
  4. “Sirens”
  5. “Lightning Bolt”
  6. “Infallible”
  7. “Pendulum”
  8. “Swallowed Whole”
  9. “Let the Records Play”
  10. “Sleeping by Myself”
  11. “Yellow Moon”
  12. “Future Days”

Jane’s MF’in Addiction

When I arrived at the Tucson Music Hall and received my ticket, I was delighted to see my section was MF…naturally, I thought I was in the hardcore section so I was stoked. Upon speaking to others, it became evident that everybody was in the section – Main Floor. Needless to say, it was a great MF’in concert.

 

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The theater goes dark and the ominous “Welcome to the Machine” by Pink Floyd begins playing and green chaser lights cut through the dense smoke and the spectacle that is The Great Escape Artist is underway. They begin with Underground from their latest album and ripped right into one of my favorites – Mountain Song. Perry then made some quips about the Arizona heat and that made me proud to say that I am a true Desert Denizen and didn’t really notice the heat.

The extravagance of the show was above & beyond anything I have seen in a while with dancing burlesque girls & three 8-foot screens showing the creepiest of the creepy at any given time including several bondage scenes and plenty of ass-smacking during “Ted, Just Admit It…” to prove that Sex is Violent and Nothing’s Shocking.

They mixed up the setlist quite well with four songs each off of their major hit albums Nothing’s Shocking & Ritual de lo Habitual while playing three off their new release with Chip Away & Whores off of their self-titled album & Just Because off of Strays.

The coolest part of the show for me was after playing Ted… they had a stage change and brought out couches, kettle & steel drums and played relaxed songs Twisted Tales & Classic Girl… I felt I was transformed from a concert hall to a living room. Of course,  the crowd went ballistic once they heard the banging on the steel drum to perform the Kettle Whistle version of Jane Says. They finished with Ocean Size and came back for a two song encore including Whores and Stop!

The band seem so into the crowd and were clean, crisp and right on target when it came to playing the new songs as well as the old. Perry & Dave were quite interactive with the crowd, high-fiving, shaking hands and even allowing a female admirer to dance with Perry for a good 30 seconds before she gave him a kiss and walked off stage on her own accord. All in all, I was so glad to see them last night because the past two times I have seen them, Perry was so zonked out that he couldn’t remember his name much less the lyrics to his songs and that was truly a shame. A great show although I would have loved to hear classics like Three Days, Pigs in Zen, Had a Dad and my all-time favorite song that I have never heard live, I Would For You.

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Jane’s Addiction in Tucson 5/31/12

Top 10 AZ Summer Concerts

Now that the Memorial Day weekend has past us, it is time to prepare for the time of year that only a true desert dweller could love – summer. I have lived here off and on for the past 30 years and Arizona summers are a badge of honor and thus we are rewarded with great summer music. I have listed some of the most special upcoming summer shows so get out and enjoy your reward!

May 31st Jane’s Addiction Tucson Music Hall Tucson

The psychedelic & progressive rockers Jane’s Addiction return once again to the road after both a “Farewell Tour” in 1991 and a “Relapse Tour” in 1997. The band’s ground-breaking and oft-banned music once again has taken the charts by storm with only their fourth studio album in 25 years with The Great Escape Artist.   The band hasn’t toured since 2009 and 2003 before that so make sure to make the trek to Tucson to see the iconic blend of Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro & Stephen Perkins.

June 9th          Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers    Rocky Point, Mexico

These homegrown Arizona rockers once again make their trek south of the border and invade the “Sleepy drinking town with a fishing problem.” This will be the 21st time over the past 11 years that Roger & the boys will double or triple the population of Puerto Penasco for the weekend. Originally from Tucson and a graduate of ASU, Roger pens some of the most original songs about the dusty borderlands of our beloved Arizona. There is a running theme through most of his songs – drinking & partying with friends – so head on down to Arizona’s beach, it is safer now down there than it has ever been and relax with a cold beer in your hand and your feet in the sand.

June 16th       Van Halen    US Airways Center              Phoenix

The veteran rockers return to the road once again this summer with yet another shuffle of the band’s lineup. With the release of A Different Kind of Truth, the band’s first studio album in 14 years, original members Eddie & Alex Van Halen are joined by the prodigal lead singer David Lee Roth and Eddie’s son Wolfgang playing bass guitar. This is Roth’s third stint as the Van Halen lead singer after the band broke up in 1985 and was kicked out again in 1996 after a brief stint together. Roth rejoined the group in 2006 but once again the band went on hiatus after original bass player, Michael Anthony was removed from the website and band in 2007. After struggles with arthritis and visits to rehab, Eddie and Van Halen returned with Wolfgang on the bass guitar and began writing Truth. There are only 11 concert dates in June and if you would like to see this current lineup, I suggest you see them on this tour because with such big personalities, you never know how long they’ll stay together.

June 28th       Van’s Warped Tour        Camelback Ranch              Glendale

Over 80 bands on eight different stages will delight the eyes & ears of the younger generation in a sweat fest on the grounds of Glendale’s Camelback Ranch. With 100°+ temperatures and throngs of tweens, Millennials & Gen X’ers clinging to their youth; this will definitely be the “hottest” concert of the summer. Featured bands on the bill include All-Time Low, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, The Used & Yellowcard. This Festival runs the musical gamut with not only rock & alternative bands but also explores the genres of metal, electronic, punk, hardcore, hip-hop, ska & reggae. If you are looking for an eclectic blend of music and people, you will not do any better than the Van’s Warped Tour, but remember to stay cool & hydrated with free filtered water stations, shade areas, misting stations and even a slip & slide.

July 3rd           Summerland Tour 2012  Comerica Theatre   Phoenix

The first of the 90’s reunion band tours to hit the beautiful, downtown theatre on the day before Independence Day. The Summerland Tour has super groups Everclear, Sugar Ray and Arizona’s own Gin Blossoms. One-hit wonders Lit & Marcy Playground fill out the bill and will make Sex & Candy your Own Worst Enemy. Everclear is working on having their 7th studio album Invisible Stars available by the time the Summerland Tours embarks in late June. Sugar Ray is still promoting their latest 2009 release Music for Cougars and apparently branching into a new demographic with an album by that name. Tempe’s original Mill Avenue band Gin Blossoms have been touring with three original members and two personal friends of mine Scotty Johnson on lead guitar & Scott Hessel on drums; two great musicians and even better guys, go support them for the good of Arizona.

July 3rd      Independence Day Music Festival   Salt River Fields   Scottsdale

Country music superstar Miranda Lambert brings her beautiful voice and body to Scottsdale for an Independence Day spectacular sure to delight the entire family with gates opening at 5:00 and boasting the Valley’s largest fireworks show. Miranda Lambert is the reigning Queen of Country music with all four of her albums going platinum and has been awarded Female Vocalist of the Year from both the Country Music Association & Academy of Country Music. Her second album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend won Album of the Year from the CMA’s and her third album Revolution was bestowed with the prestigious title from both the CMA & ACM. If her music accolades were not enough, she was also named one of People magazine’s Most Beautiful People & Maxim’s Hottest Women of Country. Joining Miranda will be another flashback name from the 90’s – Darius Rucker, former front-man for Hootie & the Blowfish. In 2008, Rucker released Learn to Live on Capitol Records Nashville and it was a smash with 3 number one singles and was the first African-American with a #1 song on the country charts since Charley Pride in 1983. In 2009, Rucker was awarded the CMA’s Best New Artist and his sophomore album proved that he has found his niche in country music with 2 additional number-one songs.  Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, I assume that country music has always been a part of him but just recently tapped into the talent and we are thankful for that.

July 7th           Willie Nelson                                   Fox Theatre              Tucson

The “Red Headed Stranger” returns to Tucson at the newly renovated Fox Theatre on the weekend following the Independence Day holiday and I, for one am excited. A renowned author, actor & activist; Willie Nelson is a living legend and an iconic figure in the outlaw country genre. The Country Music Hall of Famer has garnered numerous #1 singles & albums; Best Male Artist & Entertainer of the Year awards as well several Grammy awards.  Country Music Television recently named him the #4 on their list of Greatest Men of Country Music and Rolling Stone magazine listed him as one of the Greatest Singers of All Time. I am assuming that the theatre will need to be fumigated after this show as he is one of the foremost proponents of marijuana legalization.

July 25th        Last Summer on Earth Tour         Comerica Theatre   Phoenix

The second installment of 1990’s super groups continues with the Last Sumer on Earth Tour with venerable rockers Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd & the Monsters & Cracker. The Ladies, a three piece band for over 20 years recently added a fourth member and will be supporting their newest album All in Good Time. Blues Traveler have seen the ups & downs of rock music stardom and have re-emerged with a stronger, more connected bluesy rock feel with a slimmer, healthier front man John Popper. Colorado’s Big Head Todd & the Monsters has one of the most dedicated fan bases in music today due to their incredible live shows. They are one of those bands that have a truly unique sound that defies classification other than great music. On a personal note, I had the opportunity to hang out & party with Johnny Hickman of Cracker last year in Rocky Point and he is nothing short of amazing. He is a blazingly intelligent songwriter and critical thinker that puts his heart, mind & soul into his songwriting & performing. Cracker is one of the most experimental bands out there dabbling in Americana, alternative rock, country, punk & classic rock. This shows promises to bring back many college memories for me, hopefully not the black-outs.

August 10th     The Tour 2012   Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion   Phoenix

This is the big one, harkening back to sold out stadiums across the country and the world in the 70’s & 80’s, two of America’s best loved rock bands are touring together and will arrive in Phoenix to sufficiently rock your face off.  Rock & Roll soldiers KISS have been rocking & rolling all night for close to 40 years and continue to put on an ostentatious show with their flamboyant costumes and elaborate stage show usually including fire breathing, blood spitting & pyrotechnics. Original band members Paul Stanley & Gene Simmons are joined by Eric Singer & Tommy Thayer who wear the stage makeup of original members Peter Criss & Ace Frehley respectively. Mötley Crue has been playing with all the original members since 2007 and released a new album Saints of Los Angeles to critical but not commercial acclaim. With nine albums, numerous #1 singles and millions of fans worldwide that love the bad boys of rock & roll, this show will be sure to be a rollicking ride with plenty of big hair, acid washed jeans and a fair share of nudity, attractive or not.

August 29th               Neil Diamond           US Airways Center                          Phoenix

I am not sure if there a better way to end the summer then with a concert from one of the most successful artists of all time in a great location like that of US Airways Center. I have seen several concerts there including the opening night of the center for Metallica’s seminal Black album tour. This venue will allow music lovers of all ages to enjoy the classic tunes of the songsmith who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. His music was the soundtrack of my childhood as my mother was a big fan of his music and I challenge you to find somebody who doesn’t sing along when they hear “Sweet Caroline.”