Glassjaw – Coloring Book (EP) [2011]

Posted in alternative rock,post-hardcore by deek on April 25, 2011

Let’s face it, fan outcry has practically become synonymous with Glassjaw in recent years. A much rumored acrimonious, and simultaneously protracted, departure from Warner Bros. Records saw new material from the group delayed to near “Chinese Democracy” proportions. A series of extremely limited edition 7″ releases from the band were likely intended to ease concerns, but instead caused more uproar with many proclaiming them to be a nickel and dime tactic. Eventually the material from the 7″ outings was compiled into a digital EP and most figured that would be the end of it until the now near-mythical (to the fanboys at least) new album from the group finally surfaced – that is of course until they decided to give away this, an all-new six song EP as a bonus to those who attended their early 2011 headlining tour. Although many of the included tracks had been performed live prior, these studio recordings are easily the best representation of what Glassjaw have now become. For “Coloring Book” is a bold step forward, one that sees the band emerge from their scrappy, antagonistic post hardcore roots and blossom into a different beast altogether. Much like the Deftones before them, Glassjaw now seem more intent on exploring musical texture, open space and sublime melancholy. The group achieve this through a number of haunting tones, subtle instrumental augmentation and oddly enough, a heavy dub influence manifested through the ever-intoxicating basslines of Manny Carrero. To be sure Glassjaw are no longer the wounded animal that would aggressively lash out at every turn. Band frontman Daryl Palumbo readily illustrates this newfound zen with a highly melodic, almost scream-free performance. But as odd as it may be for a group who once thrived on chaos, it is this stability and focus that allows them to flourish and express themselves through a much broader range of color and influences. Whether it be the shrill guitar tones that recall some of the more adventurous outfits of the early 80′s British pop movement (the solo on “Stations Of The New Cross” being a prime example.) Or the sonic entanglement wrought by the The Mars Volta on horse tranquilizers-like “Vanilla Poltergeist Snake“; “Coloring Book” exhibits the most expansive spectrum of musical experimentation from the band to date. What really sets this EP apart from their previous work though is the depth of the songs. There’s been considerable thought invested in structuring and aural accentuation. Each fill, riff or haunting key embellishment all seems to have been planned out in great detail prior. Surprising it is then that the end result almost always maintains an organic flair flush with heartfelt sentiment, despite the more layered approach. An impressive growth spurt that has seen them emerge more mature and capable than ever before, “Coloring Book” finds Glassjaw representing themselves with an impressively revised palette. One that representing themselves with an impressively revised palette. One that looks fully equipped to help them paint an entirely new masterpiece altogether. -the prp

Radiohead – The King of Limbs [2011]

Posted in alternative rock,electronic,experimental rock by deek on February 18, 2011

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Tao of the Dead [2011]

Posted in alternative rock,indie rock by deek on February 2, 2011

It had to happen. After 16 years and six albums, these noisemongers finally indulge their proggiest tendencies on this epic excursion inspired by frontman Conrad Keely’s childhood love of ’70s concept albums (Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Yes’ Relayer, Rush’s Hemispheres, etc.). Tao of the Dead is split into two songs, each tuned to a different key: Part I, a 35-minute jam in D effortlessly shifts over 11 chapters; and II boasts six movements over 16 minutes in F. The band’s typically thunderous melodic sprawl and cryptic musings on life and death perfectly fit the conceptual bill, with everything cranked to its natural extreme. – Spin

Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine [1989] (2010 Remaster)

Posted in alternative rock,industrial,synth pop by deek on December 11, 2010

For many artists, a debut album can offer the purest statement of purpose, but for the bands that popularized industrial music, first albums typically served as prologue to a story that wouldn’t develop until later. Although Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails’ 1989 debut, bore more of a resemblance to what the band became than, say, Ministry’s cringe-worthy 1983 new-wave debut, it still differs markedly from The Slip, two decades later. Newly remastered with a bonus track (a cover of Queen’s “Get Down Make Love,” a B-side and former staple of NIN’s live sets), Pretty Hate Machine sounds great, but remains the work of an artist just discovering his voice. Where subsequent albums showed more focus, Pretty Hate Machine bounces from the industrial rock of frontman Trent Reznor’s heroes in Ministry (“Head Like A Hole”) to dance-floor jams (“Sin,” “Ringfinger”) to quasi-rap (“Down In It”) to an electro-funk misfire (“The Only Time”). The two songs that most recognizably sound like Nine Inch Nails—“Head Like A Hole” and “Terrible Lie”—are unsurprisingly the ones that remained part of the band’s live sets until Reznor retired NIN as a touring entity in 2009. The remastering greatly improves the dynamics, letting the lows hit harder and clarifying the many sonic elements Reznor works into the songs. But remastering can’t help some of the synthesizers and samples age better (particularly in “That’s What I Get”), or make Reznor’s mopey lyrics less silly. (“Grey would be the color if I had a heart,” “Now I’m slipping on the tears you made me cry,” etc.) Reznor began to hit his stride on the 1992 EP Broken, and he fully reached it with 1994’s The Downward Spiral, which makes Pretty Hate Machine more of an interesting prequel than a pillar of NIN’s catalogue. Sure, Reznor needed to start somewhere, and Pretty Hate Machine has many charms, but 20 years later, it doesn’t warrant repeat listens like its successors. -A.V. Club

Senses Fail – From the Depths of Dreams (EP) [2002]

Posted in alternative rock,post-hardcore by deek on June 8, 2009