Archive for June, 2009

Review: Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, “III”

Maylene, "III"Since their 2005 self-titled debut, Dallas Taylor’s band Maylene and the Sons of Disaster have proved to be some of the best southern metal in the game, and they continue to have a style that doesn’t seem to need fixing. With their newest album, a continuation of II from 2007, the band has followed in the footsteps of Led Zeppelin, naming it simply III. The album picks up right where the last left off, easing into a porch setting with bugs buzzing around before the beginning riffs of “Waiting On My Deathbed” come in, foreshadowed by some impressive banjo picking. Drums come in to signify the band still has their breakdown power, reminding one of “Tough As John Jacobs” from their debut.

As you listen to the album, you’ll realize there’s really not much different here from their previous two albums. Usually I’m a big push for experimentation and such, but when certain bands come in and just blow away the competition, such as Maylene, I tend to agree with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Not all of the album is the same as previous albums, such as the album mid-point “Listen Close” in which Dallas adopts a lower, typical singing voice, and gives the song a really good classic rock sound, which is evident on other tracks as well. It’s good to see a band that does their own genre really well still try to push their own limits. The good old Maylene classics are there, such as the sure-fire single “Just A Shock”, which has some riffs in it that will surely impress any Maylene fan. “Step Up (I’m On It)” is another Maylene staple, and will likely get a lot of live play during their upcoming tour with Emery.

Lyrically, Maylene doesn’t disappoint. Some of the best lyrics come in the form of “The Old Iron Hills”, where Taylor sings the chorus, “Back to the days where we still said grace / and a man’s word’s all he had”. This song will surely appeal to anyone who’s been far from home for a long time and misses the way things were. It seems my only problem with this album is that it feels a bit short, with three of the 11 tracks coming in at less than three minutes long. However, it ends up being the second longest of their three albums, but if it wasn’t for the 5 minute instrumental ballad tacked on at the end, it would be their shortest album. The ballad tends to be a little lacking, with it being so long and having no lyrics at all. I would have been happy to have another headbanger added onto the end, or another track like “Just Wanted To Make Mother Proud” from their debut, but Maylene has been known for their ending instrumentals, like on II and now III. “Oh Lonely Grave” starts out as a ballad but quickly changes to a headbanging frenzy that will please many Maylene fans.

As I said, Maylene has decided not to push the envelope too much on their third release, and diehard fans along with mediocre fans will find plenty more to love if they’ve found pleasure in the last two releases. Another solid release from Dallas and his crew.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5

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Review: Confide, “Shout The Truth”

Confide, "Shout The Truth"

Since I started this blog I’ve been asking many people for recommendations for reviews to do, and this will be one of the first ones. I’m quite a fan of the newer hardcore/screamo bands, even when majority of the scene can become bland and over-done. You just need to look at each band and see what they stand for, why they do their music, and if they’re not just a carbon copy of someone else who is just as good. Lots of talent gets lost in this mix, and it can be hard to pull out the best of the worst. Confide is a Los Angeles native, and they are the newest addition to indie hardcore label Tragic Hero Records, home of slightly known hardcore acts Sky Eats Airplane, A Skylit Drive, and the better-known He Is Legend.

Immediately branding themselves as a faith-based hardcore act, Confide blows away with most of their lyrical content that is present throughout their entire debut record, Shout The Truth. Screaming and singing abounds, moreso than some of their label counterparts on both sides, and the choruses are more able to be understood, making for a great live show. However, despite the epic lyrical content, some phrases are overused, such as in “I Am Scared Of Me”, where the phrase “tell me I am born / tell me I’m worth the ground you walked on” is repeated for the entire bridge, making it seem that the lyrics were unable to be stretched any further. It may be to get the point across, but the words fail when repeated one too many times.

The album suffers from a few too many over-used hardcore tactics, which ultimately tend to make most tracks sound like the one you just heard. Each song is a full journey, but tragically, each story is cut to an extremely short length. By far, this is the shortest hardcore record I have ever listened to, save for The Chariot’s entire discography. But this band doesn’t have the intensity in each track that The Chariot proves to have. The songs are orchestrated well, like in the album opener “Millstone” and the Staple-esque “Zeal”, but the biggest thing that hardcore listeners love is missing often: the quintessential breakdowns. It seems that right where each song ends is where a beautiful breakdown could have been implemented, to make all the tracks (save for the two short ballads) significantly longer. With songs as short as two minutes and the longest song being not even close to four minutes, the album is over before long.

Vocals and screaming tend to be as good as they can be, given that the band has gone for the Underoath approach, with the main singing vocals coming from the drummer and screaming vocals coming from the front. Overall, Confide is a youth group’s perfect hardcore act. You want something more serious and ear-drum shattering? Wait until July 14 for the return of Pennsylvania’s own August Burns Red.

Star Rating: 3 out of 5

Review: Paper Route, “Absence”

Paper Route, "Absence"

It isn’t often that I can’t compare bands to other bands, and say “Oh yeah, they sound like so and so”. Whenever I can’t do that, I know I’ve stumbled on a band that has a new and exciting way of looking at how they do music. Paper Route is one of those bands. Immediate comparisons may draw some to MuteMath, but this four-piece out of Nashville, Tennessee proves they have much more in the pot than sounding like other bands. I’ve had a hard time coming up with this review (I wanted to have it done a month ago) and for the first time, I can say I don’t know why these guys are so good. Indie-pop mixed with rock/electronica sounds makes for an interesting ride, and Paper Route proves they can shine through all of it.

The band released three EPs in the past three years or so, and Absence is their first major label debut, distributed by Universal Motown Records. Songs like the opener “Enemy Among Us” and “Wish” showcase light piano rock with solid guitars that seem to send you into another world, reminiscent of Coldplay’s last venture Viva La Vida, while the lead single “Carousel” is a perfect blend of indie rock and electronic sounds, giving way to what the band is already quite known for. “Tiger Teeth” is another satisfying tune, with drums prominent all the way through and high vocals that compliment the rest of the song. It also isn’t often that I can’t find the words to express how excited a band makes me. Paper Route is just one of those bands you just can’t get out of your head.

While the first half of the album seems to show how the band can write what will likely sell, the second half of the 12-track album is just a plethora of melodies, sounds, and downright awesomeness. “Last Time” continues the journey, leading into “No Sudden Revelations”, a slow, melancholy track with haunting vocals in the back and keyboard sounds flooding your ears, it’s enough to lull you to sleep, in a good way of course. “Are We All Forgotten” was featured on their EP of the same name last year, but still gives a great listening experience here, especially for those who didn’t pick up the EP. What Paper Route has seemed to do is take something so simplistic, like the indie rock scene, injected what they love about electronica into it, and out comes what started as just jamming sessions and experiments in a basement under a bed a few years ago. Absence is sure to become one of the stand out albums of 2009.

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5