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F.E.A.R.

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Papa Roach – F.E.A.R.1_yellow_star1_yellow_star1_yellow_star

So I’m wondering why Papa Roach decided to call their new album F.E.A.R? Do they fear fans will realize that all of the songs essentially sound the same? Do they fear that they might lose their so-called “nu” metal card? Do they fear that they’ve lost their identity?

Those are the fears I realized after listening to the California band’s 8th album, F.E.A.R. I mean, for the record, it’s not a bad album – but it’s not great. It’s OK and I think that if you are a card carrying member of the Papa Roach fan club then you probably will think F.E.A.R is at the very least OK. Some might like it a lot. All depends on how big a fan you are and how willing you are to disregard its shortcomings.

For me, every song seemed to blend into the other with none managing to stand out above another. The first song, “Face Everything and Rise” is OK and probably the best song to kick off the album but it, as well as the others, seems rather formulated to me – like they dropped some lyrics into a computer, clicked the “nu metal button” and out popped this album.

I think it’s very easy these days to lose sight of what “metal” really is. You can’t just slap on some tattoos, leather, and some well-placed heavy guitar riffs and call yourself “metal.” It’s a state of mind…not a state of electronics. The boys in Papa Roach are talented. Lead singer, Jacoby Shaddix, can really sing but as a “Last Resort” (hint, hint) I think they need to do a little soul-searching and try to get back to their roots.

President FDR once said, “The only thing we have to fear is F.E.A.R itself.” Well, he kinda said that. While I don’t think you need to fear F.E.A.R, I do think you should be a little leery of it.

 

JPL

Ride

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Before I review, Ride, in stores March 10th on Metal Blade Records, It’s important to give you the history of the band, Motor Sister. The story of how the band evolved is about as great as the music. The name Motor Sister comes from a song called “Little Motor Sister” by a band most people have never heard of – Mother Superior. Los Angeles based rockers, Mother Superior, were around through most of the 90’s into the late 2000’s. While they may not have been a mainstream success, they did release 8 studio albums and worked with many renowned artists including, Henry Rollins, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, and Queens of the Stone Age just to name a few.

But their biggest fan very well may be Anthrax guitarist, Scott Ian. To make a long story short, Ian orchestrated what is essentially an all-star tribute band that includes original Mother Superior lead singer Jim Wilson, Ian on guitar, Joey Vera (Armored Saint/Fates Warning) on bass, John Tempesta (White Zombie/The Cult) on drums, and Ian’s wife, Pearl Aday, with harmonies and background vocals. Ian hand-picked his favorite Mother Superior songs, they played an impromptu gig at his house, and the rest is rock-n-roll history.

After listening to their debut album, Ride, I thought Motor Sister would be in good company if I compared them to a modern day version of Bad Company. The songs brought me back to the 70’s with their blues infused, hard rock riffs and strong vocals that work with the music rather than trying to overpower it. Songs like “A Hole,” “This Song Reminds Me of You,” and “Head Hanging Low” are rooted in old-fashioned classic rock while showcasing the contemporary metal edge that each all-star brings to the table. “Fool Around,” my personal favorite, is a fun song with some bluesy weight and tempo changes that highlight the versatility of the band.

Wanna know what the heart of rock-n-roll sounds like? Get in line now to pick up a copy of Motor Sisters’, Ride. It was born out of love for rock-n-roll and raised by proud rock-n-rollers who want nothing more than for rock-n-roll fans to appreciate it for what it represents. Classic rock.

Knowing that Ride was recorded live in studio in two days and less than two weeks after the band was created makes it all the more impressive.

 

JPL

American Beauty/American Psycho

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Fall Out Boy – American Beauty/American Psycho 1_yellow_star1_yellow_star

When you have to reference in the titles of your songs Oscar-winning movies, A-list actors, and bands who represent the best in their league, you may have a problem. It’s kind of like the guy who drives the big and expensive sports car because he’s lacking, um, elsewhere. All berries, not much twig, if you know what I mean. Or, perhaps Fall Out Boy, on their 6th studio album, American Beauty/American Psycho, really believe that size doesn’t matter. So let’s take a look and see if they measure up. Ladies…follow me.

The first song, “Irresistible” is nothing short of resistible. Casual listeners might very well like this song and the others that sound a lot like it but diehard fans will not be so thrilled with the commercially-driven direction the band seems to have taken.

“Centuries” is a decent pop song that sounds a lot like what the band in recent years. It will be the most popular song on the album as lead singer Patrick Stump belts out, “You will remember me for centuries.” Not so sure about that but all fans will be happy for at least a little while.

On “Uma Thurman,” Stump sings, “She wants to dance like Uma Thurman” and I can’t help but wonder why? Why am I listening to this over-the-pop dance song when I could be sitting and enjoying a $5 shake in a hipster diner? Similarly, “Novocaine” is a toothache of a song that will require something much stronger to endure. And I wouldn’t want to live forever if I had to listen to “Immortals” for an eternity. Just kill me now.

But, alas, there are a couple of songs that salvage this album at least a little bit. Like the airlines, “Jet Pack Blue” is an economy of a song thanks in part to the band relying less on computer-generated noises and more on their talents as musicians. On the final song, “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel in NYC), I can actually hear all of the instruments. It’s more Comfort Inn than Ritz Carlton but I do think it gives fans hope for the future.

Unfortunately, not even Viagra can get this album up to par. For those fans who think it’s not the size of the boat that counts but the motion of the ocean you may be satisfied. But for those who prefer a little more substance, well, you get the picture…

 

JPL

The Pale Emperor

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Marilyn MansonThe Pale Emperor

Shocked. Horrified. Terrified. Dumbstruck. Flabbergasted. Numb. These are just some of the words I would use to describe the fact that I really (and I mean really) like Marilyn Manson’s latest album, The Pale Emperor.

Obviously I wasn’t expecting what I got – a vocally and musically mature album that, lyrically, still retains the subject matter that, well, shocked and horrified many and thrilled many others. It’s like Manson got wiser in his age and, if he’s on medication, maybe even upped the dosage.

Hate to start with what I think is a problem, but the first song, “Killing Strangers,” isn’t a great lead in to the rest of the album. It is a very good slow-ish and mesmerizing song – and probably has some strange (or not so strange) tie-in to the others – but I don’t have the kind of time to figure that out, man. The second song, “Deep Six” is a much more fitting intro that will reward you for your patience. Here’s a song that is about as pure rock-n-rock as Marilyn Manson will ever be and I mean that in the best way possible. In fact, I dare you not to like this song.

I honestly don’t know who the musicians are on this album or how much input that had in the songs, but they are fantastic and compliment Manson’s voice like nothing I’ve ever heard from him. The albums 3rd and 4th songs, “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge” and “The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles” are all Marilyn Manson but they are also very slick, stylish, haunting and tight. So goes the entire album.

Another reason why I really like The Pale Emperor is because there is a lot less of the forced moaning and groaning that I am accustomed to from Manson and more actual singing. Hearing don’t need a motherfucker looking down on me in “The Devil Beneath My Feet” is quite refreshing and welcomed…because he’s actually singing and singing well.

The Pale Emperor is a great album. There, I said it and I’m not taking it back. I know we are early in 2015, but so far this is my album of the year! Whether you are a Marilyn Manson fan or not, check it out. If you don’t like it I will be shocked, horrified, terrified, dumbstruck, flabbergasted, and numb.

 

JPL

Baptized in the Rio Grande

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Sons of Texas – Baptized in the Rio Grande

Although I live in the Lone Star State, I am not a son of Texas. I have a son who lives with me in Texas but since I was not born in the great state of I can only claim to be a mere stepson.  With their debut album Baptized in the Rio Grande available on March 3rd on Razor & Tie Records, you can now add fan of Sons of Texas to my list.

Sons of Texas, the 5-piece band from McAllen, Texas have put together a solid first album that takes us deep in the heart of heavy metal with some good old-fashioned rock-n-roll and a little bit of the blues mixed in here and there.

“Never Bury the Hatchet,” the first track on the album, will assure you that things really are bigger in Texas – like lead singer Mark Morales’ voice which immediately grabs you by head and pulls at your brains. The brothers Villarreal on drums and bass respectively will have you pounding your body into the ground and guitarist Jes de Hoyos will remind you why you love to play air guitar.

Other highlights of Baptized in the Rio Grande include “Nothing King” that will have you punching holes in your walls and “The Vestryman” which combines Hoyos’ rock-n-bluesy guitar abilities with the band’s strength in making classic hard rock tunes, Texas-style.  If you live in Texas, you might just find yourself grinning when you listen to the last song on the album, “Texas Trim.” It starts off with a little bit of banjo (that’s right, I said banjo) before knocking you and your 10-gallon cowboy hat clear across the room. That’ll teach you to mess with Texas!

Sons of Texas’ future is big and bright and their debut album Baptized in the Rio Grande will have you saying “Amen” to that. Do yourself a favor and jump on the band’s covered wagon on March 3rd so you can say you were there when it all started!

JPL