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Album Reviews

tUnE-yArDs: Nikki Nack

Merrill Garbus’ project tUnE-yArDs has done what most experimental groups try to accomplish but fail since her very start in 2009. This is creating a radical-vibe while maintaining a sense of collected musicianship. She pulls off the percussion-influence by being confidently lively and actually having rhythm and a powerful voice, a theme that has become a sort of trademark for Garbus. We usually see her in photos with face paint, a symbol of the freedom she evokes through her music. One can argue that this unusual make up differs her from a lot of popular musicians we see in the media today. This asserts the fact that she is a real person — and we can relate to her music. Her third album Nikki Nack is, if you can believe it, louder than her previous projects, w h o k i l l and her 2009 debut, BiRd-BrAiNs, but also more collected in a sophisticated kind of way. There’s still Garbus’ familiar playful element, like in “Real Thing”: "One two three o'clock / Four o'clock, walk and walk and talk and talk and walk and talk and then / Five, six, seven—seven—seven—heaven—heaven—take me again”, but there is also a maturity that is nothing less of impressive. She manages to attack the subject matter (mostly social issues, this album being a lot about sexuality) head-on like a lion attacking its prey; very in-your-face but wildly beautiful. She even slows down on tracks like “Look Around” where she gives us a detailed glimpse of her musical movements. Even the album artwork reflects that of a kid having fun with scissors and glue, but at the same time evokes an artistic sophistication. Through Nikki Nack, Garbus is able to grab your attention, a great example of this is with the song the album closes with, “Manchild,” where Garbus announces, “I’ve got something to say!”. She goes on to tell this “man child” what’s what in terms of sexuality (“Not gonna say yes when what I really mean is no”). A lot of artists on the indie scene follow a trend of rolling-with-weird but also arousing a usual-structure. Garbus takes this and mashes it up like a child in a sandbox.
Review written by: Chloé Arzuaga

Savages: Theory of a Deadman


Canadian rockers Theory of a Deadman are at it again with their 5th While I’d like to sit here and tell you that this album “Hits hard!” and “Melts faces!” it really doesn’t. Listeners will instead find a pleasant mix of grooving, riff-driven tracks, alongside a fair number of emotion-filled tearjerker ballads. One of the most interesting aspects of this album are the two tracks featuring guest musicians; the title track “Savages” and the emotional country- rock mash-up “Livin’ My Life Like A Country Song”. None other than Alice Cooper joins the boys in “Theory on Savages,” which should be enough to get any metalhead’s attention. To be completely honest though, his, uh, cameo, on the track leaves a bit to be desired. While you can definitely hear Cooper in the chorus vox, his main part comes in this strange little interlude where he seems to just make a speech. Don’t get me wrong, it goes with the song, but when you see Alice Cooper featured in a song, I feel like there needs to be a really cool verse or hook or something like that. Moving on to “Livin’ Life Like A Country Song”, I’ll start by saying that this track pleasantly surprised me. The track features Rascal Flatt’s lead guitarist and high harmony vocalist Joe Don Rooney. Rooney’s vocals meld extremely well with Theory singer Tyler Connolly and the result is an impassioned track that could honestly be on any country playlist. Other notable tracks are “Drown”, a melodic song with a wicked bass groove and eerie vocals; “Blow”, a sarcastic and catchy track that crunches through the worst parts of popular culture, and “Heavy”, a fun head-banger that really captures the minds of metal fans. On the lighter side, “Angel” gives you a sad love song that you can feel the emotion in, while “The One” takes it further, giving you a piano driven ballad that really shows off Connolly’s passionate vocal style. Overall, “Savages” is a fantastic album with a number of solid songs that definitely deserve a listen, whether you think they’re your style of music or not. And hey, if you like Theory, they’re headlining at the Water Street Music Hall in Rochester on October 10th (Shameless plug over).
Review written by: Jake Trask

Five by Maroon 5

Maroon 5’s fifth album, “Five”, comes at us with something old, something expected, and something new. The album was officially released the second of September with the singles “Maps” and “Animals” preceding it. It debuted at #1 on Billboard 200, selling 164,oo0 copies. While review sources such as Entertainment Weekly, the A.V. Club, and the Observer give the album a C average I would agree with Rolling Stone by giving it a B or a 4/5. The band seems to have found a balance with this album between their old sound , pop, and electric. The two singles, “Maps” and “Animals” show the balance with Maps being on the poppier side and “Animals” veering off into electric. “Maps” is catchy and fun, even though its about a girl letting Adam down, we are slowly becoming more accustomed with the more “poppier” sound of Maroon 5. It was co-written with Ryan Tedder, the lead singer of One Republic. “Sugar” and “Coming Back For You” also exhibit the poppy, catchy beats and hooks that Maroon 5 are quickly becoming known for. “Coming Back For You” has a quick, pop beat . “Sugar”, just like its name suggests, is sweet and fun will make you want to dance. An extremely poppy song you won’t be able to get out of head for days. “It Was Always You”, “Unkiss Me”, and “Feelings” all show the darker, electric kind of sound that follows in the footsteps of the released single, “Animals.” The song, “New Love”, has a hard beat and darker lyrics that almost reminds me of the older Maroon 5; i.e. their second and fourth albums. It has just enough sap and grunge to identify with Maroon 5’s style while “Leaving California” and “Open Your Heart” has a bit too much sap and “In Your Pocket” has too much grunge. This past year has been an extremely hectic year for the band, with Jesse Carmichaels returning to the band in April, Adam getting married in July, the album debuting at #1, and the Voice preparing to air in a couple of weeks one would think the band was ready to take a break, but no. They have a worldwide tour that’s scheduled to kick off in Dallas, Texas on February the sixteenth next year to promote the album. This album has a little bit of the best and the worst of Maroon 5 all mixed into one. If you like poppy Maroon 5 from “Overexposed” this is the album for, but if you’re looking for another “Songs About Jane” I wouldn’t be so sure.
Review written by: Brianna Milon

Pale Communion: Opeth

The Both

Let the butt hurting, whining, and crying begin! Opeth has finally released their new album “Pale Communion” and it is, well how do I say it, not really a metal album. But is this a bad thing? Not really, even though many people would rather put my head on a spike because I said that. “Pale Communion” sounds melodic and surprise surprise; there are no growls or metal vocals. This shouldn’t come as a major surprise anyway since their last album also had no metal vocals either. “Pale Communion” is a great lead to Opeth’s new sound. The band and singer Mikael Åkerfeldt have changed their sound completely from their old albums such as “Blackwater Park” and “Ghost Reveries”. “But Addison, doesn’t this mean they aren’t as good?” Well that is a great question random reader. Yes and no. “Pale Communion” is an amazing piece of work with tracks like “River” and “Cusp of Eternity”. They have amazing guitar work and pure lyrical heaven, but apparently it makes Opeth fans hate Opeth. Yes this album is a different sound than people are used to. Does that make it bad or does it mean the band is selling out? Of course not! Åkerfeldt and the band have taken to a different sound. If you don’t like it whatever, go listen to some other album. For people who actually enjoy a variety of music and have the ability to accept that an amazing band is going in a different direction than most definitely listen to this album. It has such amazing sounds and lyrics. Åkerfeldt has a voice that can completely stand out in a crowd. Whether it is his amazing clean vocals or his low growls of beauty, his voice cannot be matched. This goes for this album as well. Åkerfeldt uses his vocal talent to harmonize every possible melody. It is simply amazing what this band can accomplish. To think they may have sold out or have washed up is preposterous. This album is a great piece of work even though it is a little different. It is definitely worth listening to. Haters are going to hate, but real fans of the band shouldn’t bash the album because it is different. They should be accepting that it is different and give it a try and so should you.
Review written by: Addison Hurlburt

All You Can Do: Watsky

Watsky is slowly taking the rap industry by storm, not only with his hit single “Sloppy Seconds” but with his brand new album “All You Can Do” as well. This album hasn’t even been out for two weeks and he already has charting singles. “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa” and “Right Now” are the most popular right now but I guarantee the rest of his work will soon be known world-wide. “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa” has a Pink Floyd and Flobots feel to it, something strange but captivating at the same time. It’s dynamics and fast pace melody caught my attention and kept it. The lyrics even reference Miley Cyrus, something you’ll have to listen to find out more about. Watsky’s ability to rap shows prominently in this song, topping the speed of Busta Rhyme’s verse in “Look at Me Now.” “Right Now” has a summer vibe to it; upbeat and catchy, all while explaining how to live in the “right now” and forget the past. The track even features phenomenal vocals by Lisa Vitale. One of my favorites from this album is “All You Can Do,” which has a slow introduction featuring piano, violin and even trumpets for a little twist but then goes right into that classic old school rap sound for the chorus. What I truly love about this song is the meaning. It took me a few times to understand what the lyrics meant but the song is about how life is full of twists and turns and that can’t be changed. “Ink Don’t Bleed” is sure to be the next single. The lyrics are very elaborate, explaining the “fake and painted world” we live in. It is slower but it has a jazzy blues feel to it which flows nicely. Speaking of things flowing nicely, the sporadic and unique rhythm of “The One” definitely makes it the recommended track of the entire album. The lyrics are spit fast yet are clear and crisp and they tell a story that everyone can relate to, living to find your one and only true love. Watsky did a great job with this album and it was well worth the wait. He incorporates true life into his lyrics which is hard to find today. He has great presentation within his songs and is sure to be making it big any day now. I would definitely recommend this album to previous Watsky fans, rap fans in general, or anyone who is looking for true spoken music that touches the soul.
Review written by: Nikki Lawrence

New Medicine: Breaking the Model

If this genre of music had to be defined, it would be “party-rock.” This album is just in your face and lyrics that are punk to the core. Starting off with the title track, vocalist Jake Scherer immediately expresses his distaste for what music has become. “You can keep your mothaf**kin’ politics, you punk a** boardroom piece of s**t, cuz my music isn’t made for your three-piece suit! It’s for angry kids in the mosh pit dude!” This is a way of saying that, regardless of who is above them, they’re going to do things their way. Typically, they get away with just that! It seems that if the suits don’t like it, they do it anyway and give them the good ol’ middle- finger salute, with a smile on their faces and a beer in their hands. They know that their talent will get them somewhere; they were born to do this and they will drop anyone who gets in their way. “Desire Into Gold” speaks about that resolve, the strength that keeps them driving on. Also, the vocals strongly resemble ones that you would hear in a Rage Against the Machine song. As the album progresses, especially on tracks like “All About Me,” “Dead Love Song” and “Boy Like Me” show just how much they have matured. Musically, lyrically and in terms of their overall deliverance, on these tracks especially, speaks volumes about how hard these guys work for their fans. Of course, there are those party anthems like “One Too Many,” “World Class F*ck Up” and “Like A Rose” that will get the crowd moving and, in essence, that’s what defines this talented group of guys. But this album explores the more emotional side of New Meds as well. I can guarantee if you enjoyed “Race You to the Bottom,” their previous album, you will find yourself falling even more in love with Breaking the Model. Whether you’re looking for that sad, lonely love song, the next theme for your parties or just want to have a good time, you will find it all on this album. New Medicine is rising quickly and they’re leaving all the haters in the dust. They will continue to keep “Breaking the Model” in the future and, whether or not you like it, they’re going to do what they want because they don't care about opinions.
Review written by: Nick Winger

5 Seconds of Summer (Bonus Track Version)


When listening to this album, I couldn’t help but to fall in love. This is 5 Seconds of Summer, or also known as 5SOS, debut album that has everything in it to be a boy band. The tunes are catchy, lively, and fun to listen to. It’s a good thing that they are on tour with One Direction, because the two boy bands have very similar musical styles, from the chanting in the background, to all members of the band coming together to sing. The best part about this band is that they aren’t afraid to be themselves. By this, I mean that they have fun and live in the moment; whether you listen to their songs, see the making of their music videos, or the music videos themselves. They stay true to themselves, which is always a key aspect when becoming famous “rock stars”. The band has two Top 40 singles so far off of this album. Their first single “She Looks So Perfect” was a great first single for the band because it hit HUGE. This was the ideal summer song, and the boys released it right at the perfect time. This is a fun song that has catchy lyrics and for me, the guitar in this song really stands out and makes the song what it is. Other songs like this include “Don’t Stop”, which has a potential to be a single, “Good Girls”, “18”, and many others. Their second single is a slower song called “Amnesia” and it is blowing up the charts right now. This song is a brilliant heartbreaking song that you can’t help but keep on repeat. This song has simple instruments in it, making the vocals really stand out and have them make the song extremely strong. This is the kind of song that you would listen to after having your heart ripped out of your body and stomped on the ground; the kind of song that to listen to when you need a good cry. This song has a very “Little Things” feel, but taken in a different direction, making this song the bands own. The song “Never Be” is another slower song that is much like “Amnesia” in the way that it is heartbreaking yet beautiful sounding all at the same time. “Social Causality” is the kind of song that reminds me of the band “Fall Out Boy”. This song is more on the rock side, with a high-pitched chorus and hard guitar sounds. In this song, the drums really stand out with the blast of the symbols and the mini “solos” that are in the background of the vocals. I really enjoy this because 5SOS is taking a chance in this song and aren’t afraid to be different in their musical style. Another song like this is “Voodoo Doll”, with the same style of rock instruments; however, the pitch is constant, meaning that the boys don’t raise into a different octave during this song. Overall, this album is a great one to listen to. If you are a One Direction fanatic, then you will fall in love with 5SOS. And even if you aren’t and are looking for something new to listen to, then this album is the go-to album.
Review written by: Alyssa Kate

Get Hurt: The Gaslight Anthem

The Both

The Gaslight Anthem has done it again with an amazing new album! Or have they? To be honest, they haven’t and actually I don’t quite know why. The Gaslight Anthem has had a great four albums and then Get Hurt has finally arrived and it isn’t really that impressive. Singer Brian Fallon said that Get Hurt was going to be like nothing anyone had heard from them in the past and it should have a Bob Dylan feel to it. Surprisingly and unfortunately, Fallon was completely correct. Get Hurt is like nothing anyone has ever heard from Gaslight before, because it doesn’t sound like Gaslight in the slightest. For some reason, they wanted to get away from the true “rock and roll” feeling they have always had. The problem with that is, that appears to be the only thing they can play. The album is a giant cluster fudge of pop, metal, or rock. It is hard to tell. Let’s just call it Porocketal for short. The album screams out in anguish as the music gears grind together. The majority of the album is like being in a Michael Bay movie. You pay attention for a little bit, intrigued by the first few explosions, but after the fifth explosion you realize there is not real plot or point to the movie and you just want it to be over. The album is in your face Porocketal, but after the first few songs, you just want it to end. The only real redeeming quality of the album is Fallon’s ability to make the self titled song “Get Hurt” come right from the heart as he sings about his personal life. It makes the album worth listening to at least once. Then you can go back to “The 59 Sounds” and enjoy the bands normal sound again. Who knows, maybe Gaslight is on to something with the new Porocketal scene, but I am just hoping everyone forgets this album, like that embarrassing family member no one wants to be associated with, but everyone has.
Review written by: Addison Hurlburt

Stuck: Adelitas Way
★★☆☆☆ Ready Steady Go

After 3 miserable years of waiting for Adelitas Way to come out with new material, they bounced back and released a new studio album. Stuck is their newest album that was released back on July 9. It felt like forever since Adelitas Way released new material. Their last Home School Valedictorian was released back in 2011. When comparing Stuck to its previous two older relatives, it doesn’t match up with them. Stuck doesn’t have popping and energetic songs like the pervious two albums. This album does not feel like Adelitas Way did it; it’s hard to believe that they produced this soft album. Don’t get me wrong there are some good songs on this album but there is not anything catchy about any of the tracks, it feels more soft than anything else. I have always been a huge fan of Adelitas Way, I have their previous two albums, but I feel disappointed because they really failed to deliver on this album. I expected a new big rock album but this album is mostly filled with soft alternative rock songs. Not a bad album but for some fans who listen to the album with high hopes might be disappointed. Some fans might disagree with what I’m saying; they may love the new direction that Adelitas Way is going in. Adelitas Way may have put their hearts and souls into this album but it feels too rushed. They matured as a band but there is not anything special about this album; I don’t think I will be a huge fan of Stuck any time soon. Hopefully their future albums will feature that original sound of Adelitas Way, because I believe this band can do a heck of a better job when producing good songs. Most of the songs on the album sound generic; the only song that really stands out to me is “Dog On a Leash.” “Dog On a Leash” to me almost sounds like “Cage The Beast” from, the previous album. “Dog On a Leash” has that energy and catchiness that most of the tracks on this album are missing. Don’t let my criticism stop you from listening to Stuck, you might enjoy it more than me.
Review written by: Alan Taylor

Yesterdays: Pennywise (Explicit)

What can be said about one of the giants of punk Pennywise that hasn’t already been said? How could a giant that helped shape the name of Epitaph Records release any more amazing material than what they did in the 90’s. Truthfully, that just isn’t possible, but that doesn’t mean they still don’t get out there and kick major butt. As new genres of punk emerge every month, Pennywise sticks to what they do best and rocks your little eardrums with their new album “Yesterdays”. The opener, “What You Deserve”, just throws you right back into the Pennywise that everyone remembers with their group chants and rigid bass lines. There are just a few things that really make this album a little lack luster. For instance, main singer Jim Lindberg is back in the fold after returning from internal band struggles. Looking to hit the reset button for the new year, the band just doesn’t sound as amazing it used to. The drums are dull and dry and sometimes it’s almost like they don’t even need to be in the songs. This being their eleventh album, there is some credit to be given, but should they continue to make music? Of course they need to! The album may be lacking here and there, but not a single Pennywise fan on earth could say they didn’t at least enjoy the album. Many tracks and bass lines were written by the now deceased, Jason Thirsk, that just hadn’t been released. The thing about the album is it shouldn’t have been released as a standalone album. It would have been amazing as a special release with new unheard demos and rare performances. “Yesterdays” is a great listen to any Pennywise fan out there. You will definitely enjoy a nice trip down Pennywise lane, but the album just really struggled with the power and presence of the old feel they were going for. Seeing as Pennywise releases an album every two years, I am greatly looking forward to their next release in 2016.
Review written by: Addison Hurlburt

Strong Museum of Play