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Most Recent Album Reviews on ARTISTdirect

Last Build Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2013 15:09:23 PST


"Black Out the Sun" by Sevendust

Wed, 20 Mar 2013 15:09:23 PST

Sevendust never hold anything back. However, on their ninth studio album, Black Out the Sun, they go harder than ever before. In some ways, it's like they've transmuted the ferocity of their classic self-titled debut, Home, and Animosity into the sharp, succinct songwriting sensibility of Cold Day Memory. Be prepared to down a Molotov cocktail of razor sharp riffs, pounding rhythms, and soulful hooks. "Faithless" teeters between a bludgeoning groove and almost bluesy verses from vocalist Lajon Witherspoon before everything spirals out into a maddeningly heavy hook. Meanwhile, the guttural growls on "Till Death" make for one of the group's heaviest salvos ever. Morgan Rose's drumming pummels perfectly as the dual guitar assault of Clint Lowery and John Connolly volleys from vibrant to vicious on "The Mountain". Throughout Vinnie Hornsby bolts down a volatile bass groove that fortifies the heaviness. "Cold As War" rises from the wah-ed out effects Lowery and Connolly remain masters at

"Metal" by Newsted

Wed, 20 Mar 2013 14:44:52 PST

"Take my place leading the pack," snarls Jason Newsted on "King of the Underdogs". That's precisely what he does on his solo debut EP, Metal. The legendary former Metallica bassist thrashes with the best of them over the course of these four scorching salvos. He injects an unbridled ferocity into the riffs and bass on tracks like "Soldierhead"— while still carrying the kind of hooks that still register off the Richter Scale. The Bay Area hasn't been shaken to its core like this since 1987. "Godsnake" slithers with a pummeling groove, while "King of the Underdogs" stretches a notch past the six-minute mark without ever losing an ounce of intensity. Then, there's the epic closer "Skyscraper" which towers over heavy metal with impressive power. Few guys can do it like Newsted, and this isn't a rebirth for him. It's a rebirth for metal. With his forthcoming full-length album featuring Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, there's no limit to how much these gents will crush. Get your copy at

"In Ear Park" by Department of Eagles

Mon, 20 Oct 2008 14:11:35 PST

With half of its core duo hailing from the universally lauded indie outfit Grizzly Bear, many fans will assuredly approach Department of Eagles with a sideband-stigma. Born as a dorm-room project between Daniel Rossen and Fred Nicolaus, the group was pushed behind the curtain when Rossen joined Grizzly Bear and helped write their stunning 2006 release, Yellow House. The album's haunting atmosphere and melodic sensibilities earned adoration from fans and peers alike, culminating in a summer 2008-slot opening for Radiohead. While Grizzly Bear held the indie spotlight, Rossen and Nicolaus were still passing ideas back and forth behind the scenes, slowly crafting what would become Department of Eagles' sophomore outing, In Ear Park. Dedicated to Rossen's late father, In Ear Park ruminates heavily on past experiences and childhood memories as though breathing life into the halcyon reveries that sleep beneath faded photographs. The results are engrossing from the opening track, where Rossen

"" by Department of Eagles

Fri, 28 Mar 2008 07:50:17 PST

Magnolia is a dense, somewhat exhausting film. Clocking in at nearly 3 (!) hours, the Paul Thomas Anderson-lensed drama is based in Los Angeles, and tells the tale of several archetypal Angelenos, who are all inevitably linked by fate in the end. It takes place over the course of a single day, where all the key characters are somehow, some way, separated by six degrees. Sure, the film is packed with too much emotion and too many characters, but their lives are like car crashes, littered with casualties and fallout, and you will never be able to look away from their chaos. Chances are, that all the characters in Magnolia will remind you of at least one or more people that you know or have known at one point in your life. There's the dying patriarch ( Jason Robards), his pill-popping trophy wife ( Julianne Moore), his bewildered nurse ( Philip Seymour Hoffman), and his estranged, self-help guru son ( Tom Cruise in his best role to date), the damaged druggie ( Melora Walters), her creepy

"Cross" by Justice

Fri, 06 Jul 2007 17:39:49 PST

This cryptically-titled release marks the crest of a wave of anticipation that's been building for every drop of new material from Paris' Ed Banger label. French-duo Justice are populists to the core, and they don't disappoint here with a dozen tracks that are guaranteed to fill, if not overwhelm, any dancefloor. Justice go in big for '80s hair-metal hooks, major-key synth ditties and other showy schticks that will rub minimalist house purists the wrong way. And while the melodies they favor are the aural equivalent of prime rib, the results are anything but easily digested. All of the big tunes included on Cross—"Let There Be Light," "Waters of Nazareth" and "Phantom"—feature dirty, stuttering electro drums and tidal waves of caustic mid-range distortion. Theirs is a funny sort of populism, smothering hands-in-the-air hooks in devilish dissonance. Even when Justice stray from this combo, which has rightly made their name, their impish sense of fun always prevails; there's

"Sticking Fingers into Sockets" by Los Campesinos!

Fri, 06 Jul 2007 17:20:38 PST

From the first whisper of glockenspiel and hand-claps, and at first glance of the glaring exclamation point in their name, it would be easy to write off Los Campesinos! as a bandwagon band, following the trend of kitschy spazz-pop a la Architecture in Helsinki. Their debut EP, which features six songs with annoyingly cute titles, sees the status-quo indie-pop formula clash with teenage angst and a visceral, rock edge. Where other frenetic pop bands superimpose cartoonish personification on arbitrary things to induce cuteness, LC! sing episodic tales from their teenage past with ambitious conviction. On "It Started with a Mixx," they lament "trying to find the perfect match between pretentious and pop." Therein lies the question. They have the all-too-common peppy male and female vocals, which banter to the tune of follow-the-bouncing-ball melodies, but what makes the band stand out is their willingness to explore. The guitars are far more prominent (and loud) for a "pop" band, and they

"Black Lives At The Golden Coast" by The Icarus Line

Fri, 06 Jul 2007 11:38:41 PST

Reputation still often precedes The Icarus Line, whose press clippings paint them as debauched hellraisers playing appropriately assaultive rock 'n roll. And Black Lives at the Golden Coast does wage intermittent war on eardrums, fired by brash, brisk stompers like "Committed to Extinction" and the sleazy Sunset Strip rock of "Sick Bitch." But the album ultimately sounds unsure of its footing, offering tentative glimpses into possible Icarus Line futures, like the grandiose "Victory Gardens," which recalls U2 by way of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Alternatively, as on the opening single "Black Presents," they fluctuate between sounding like noise-rockers the Mae Shi and, at least vocally, Marilyn Manson. On the poppy cut "Slayer," drummer Jeff "The Captain" Watson sounds ready to take off without the rest of his band. It's his frenetic style that anchors The Icarus Line, particularly on their faster tracks, which, at least for the time being, clearly remain their bread and butter.

"The Walk" by Hanson

Thu, 05 Jul 2007 14:28:28 PST

The release of Hanson's fourth album may come as a surprise to the music-buying majority for whom the brothers are no more than an Mmmbopping footnote in chart history; in fact, ever since their 1997 hit, the trio have been delivering their own brand of melodic pop rock to an apparently appreciative fan base. Now with wives, children and substantially less hair, the trio have set up their own label and produced an upbeat, blues-tinged record, rich with soaring anthems a cut above the usual CW soundtrack fare. Their novelty past may not win them any credibility points, but it's certainly schooled Hanson in the art of songwriting. The lead single "Go" is a gorgeous swell of melody that possesses a simple sincerity lacking from similar songs by Snow Patrol or Augustana, while the rest of the collection is carefully layered with piano, acoustic guitar and the judicious use of harmonies. "Tearing It Down" is the track Maroon 5 should have made: funky, irresistible and raw enough to keep a

"The Emperor's New Clothes" by Klute

Thu, 05 Jul 2007 09:26:07 PST

Klute's Tom Withers is one of those rare artists who is capable of transcending his chosen genre—in this case, drum 'n' bass. Yes, New Clothes is filled with madly syncopated beats looped at breakneck tempos, but that's only half the picture. Over these deranged drum patterns, Withers layers a heady mix of atmospheric keyboards, bone-shuddering basslines and melodic hooks that borrow freely from '70s punk ("Toiler"), chill room dub ("Flight 720") and everything in between. It's not quite the jazz-inflected d'n'b of LTJ Bukem, nor the cosmic slop of the genre's greatest pioneer, Goldie, but it borrows freely from both, and in doing so strikes a nice balance between dancefloor urgency and headphones-filling lushness. With 20 fairly lengthy tracks spread over two CDs, The Emperor's New Clothes sometimes drags a little, but track for track, this is the most consistent artist album anyone's released in the drum 'n' bass scene in years. Withers' gifts as an arranger of densely layered

"Version" by Mark Ronson

Tue, 05 Jun 2007 13:08:01 PST

Mark Ronson is more than a producer—he's a musical philanthropist who uses his considerable resources and connections to realize crazy pop fantasies. He's transformed Radiohead's "Just" into a slinky funk number, Britney Spears' "Toxic" into a drag queen vamp featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard, and The Jam's "Pretty Green" into a rowdy Ze Records throwback. Ronson has an uncanny knack for emphasizing the subliminal roots of pop songs, and for executing his high concepts with grace and style. Just as on his high-profile collaborations with Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse (both of whom turn up on the record), the majority of his tracks feature bold vocals, brisk beats and a fully loaded R&B horn section. Though Ronson provides novel makeovers for classic tunes by The Smiths, The Supremes and Coldplay, the majority of the cuts on Version turn mediocre songs by the likes of Ryan Adams, The Zutons, and Kasabian into first-rate modern pop. Lily Allen's turn on the Kaiser Chiefs' "Oh My God" is a