The Record Lounge: Reviews 06/08/2010

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals – S/T

I must begin by saying it was my girlfriend who first gravitated to Grace Potter well before I did. They were opening for The Black Crowes a couple of years ago, and whereas I had dismissed them, she thought they had something going on. She was right.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals return with their self-titled 4th album, and a world of confidence behind them. Jam band fan boys now have had a full blown sex symbol to ogle for a while, but the time is ripe for Potter & Co to break out into the mainstream. The self-professed hippie blends blues, soul, classic rock, and a hint of granola to hit on several genres. Standout tracks include the leadoff “Paris (Ooh-La-La)”, “Medicine”, and “Only Love”.

If you have On Demand services, there is a nice mini-concert on concert.tv. Do yourself a favor and watch them belt through several engaging numbers spanning the entire catalog, including the new album.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals is available at: http://tinyurl.com/gracepotter-st

Against Me! – White Crosses

Against Me! was a pleasant surprise from the Austin City Limits Festival ’08. They were playing during a lull, so we went over to see them and ended up being a highlight of the day.

On the follow-up to 2007’s New Wave, White Crosses portrays a band on the back-end of backlash from their punk rock fans and contemporaries. Songwriting growth, bending musical boundaries, and generally becoming their own band characterize a band who wants more than to be pigeonholed.

The title track, “Because of the Shame”, and “Bob Dylan Dream” flex Against Me!’s artistic muscle, but there is still plenty of sing-along pop-punk influence here to satisfy your needs.

White Crosses doesn’t completely abandon Against Me!’s punk rock roots, but certainly expands their horizons. Can’t wait to see where they take it next time.

White Crosses is available at: http://totaltreble.bigcartel.com/category/against-me

Twilight: Eclipse OST

The soundtrack to the latest installment in the Twilight Saga hearkens to a time when the soundtrack really mattered, the 80’s and mid-90’s. Not that I would compare this to groundbreaking soundtracks such as Pretty in Pink, Valley Girl, Hi Fidelity or even The Crow movies.

Back for another round are Muse, with a track Muse fans have torn apart and dubbed as the end of the band they love so much. It’s a soundtrack song, for crying out loud, one of the songs bands save that doesn’t necessarily fit the album they are recording, but can make a big licensing payday.

Aside from Muse, there are some interesting choices. Unreleased tracks from Florence + The Machine, The Black Keys, Vampire Weekend, UNKLE (with The Black Angels), Cee-Lo, and The Dead Weather join Band of Horses on the juggernaut that is the Twilight Saga, and Beck teams up with Natasha Khan’s Bat For Lashes for one of the more interesting standout tracks. The rest of the field is rather pedestrian, with Fanfarlo, Sia, The Bravery and Eastern Conference rounding out the alt-pop-indie lineup. Soundtrack/score veteran Howard Shore contributes the final track, Jacob’s Theme.

Twilight: Eclipse Soundtrack is available at: http://tinyurl.com/EclipseOST

Travis McCoy – Lazarus

Gym Class Heroes frontman Travis “Travie” McCoy offers Lazarus, his first solo effort. Coming off as a less talented Andre 3000, McCoy does not possess the chops to pull off a record as diverse as The Black Album, rather appearing like a schizophrenic Jay-Z. As a matter of fact, Lazarus’ creative highlight is the Ceee-Lo Green hook on the lead track, “Dr. Feelgood”. From there it goes downhill in a mess of Auto-Tune, reggae samples, smooth hip-hop R&B, resembling nothing of a cohesive album.

Lazarus is available at: http://store.fueledbyramen.com/artists/show_by_artist/53

Nevermore – The Obsidian Conspiracy

If it was 1990, I would have loved Nevermore’s power metal assault. Today, it really doesn’t stick out too much, yet is a solid metal album. On their seventh full-length offering, Nevermore’s obligatory power ballads, unnecessarily indulgent intro’s, and enough power metal riffage to bridge the gap between Slayer’s thrash, Pantera’s groove and Queensryche’s prog, The Obsidian Conspiracy definitely meets all metal criteria.

The Obsidian Conspiracy is available at: http://www.cmdistro.com/Artist/Nevermore/10219

The Ascent of Everest – From This Vantage

Recalling The Rachels on their second full-length release, From This Vantage, Nashville’s The Ascent of Everest incorporates classical and even some rock elements into their post-rock vernacular. Elegant string arrangements intensify soaring sonic builds and add a highbrow element to the 8 songs on this release. Standout tracks include “Trapped Behind Silence”, “Dark, Dark My Light”, and “Sword & Shield”.

From This Vantage is available at: http://www.shelsmusic.com/label/store.php

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~ by thesynaptic on August 8, 2010.

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