Tuesday, May 27, 2008

CD Reviews

Old 97’s

Blame It on Gravity
New West Records

The Old 97’s have been churning out their endearing brand alt-country/power-pop now for nearly 15 years. With their latest, “Blame it on Gravity”, unfortunately the wear and tear is starting to show a bit. It’s not that the 13 track record is bad – in fact it is still better than most efforts the genre is likely to offer this year – it’s simply that the Texas boys set the bar so high with their earlier efforts. Songs like “Time Bomb” (off of “Too Far to Care”) or “Victoria,” (off of “Wreck Your Life”) were instant classics. In comparison, there really are no obvious classics off of the group’s latest. “No Baby I” would have obviously been overshadowed and ignored if it were on one of their first records, but comes off as one of the stronger outings on “Blame it on Gravity.” This record is still a must-own for anyone who was a fan enough of the band to buy front man Rhett Miller’s solo efforts. For all others, I’d suggest picking up a copy of “Too Far to Care” and waiting to see what the next record brings.

Good Riddance
Remain in Memory - Live
Fat Wreck Chords

Coming in at 31 tracks, it’s easy to dismiss “Remain in Memory,” Good Riddance’s live album, as overkill. But for an underdog band that made it almost 20 years, churning out good-to-great political rants, backed by solid punk rock only to be ignored by many outside of their native Southern California, 31 tracks almost seems like not enough for a band that’s more than earned their place in punk rock history.

Recorded on May 27, 2007, in their hometown of Santa Cruz, “Remain in Memory” marks the band’s very last show together. Throughout their career, they were overshadowed by far less talented bands with bigger resources, but the guys in Good Riddance, undaunted, continued to turn in album after album of passionate punk rock fight songs. Fueled by old Bad Religion and Dead Kennedy’s albums, distorted guitars and a healthy dose of cynicism, Good Riddance managed to put out eight albums before finally calling it quits. Lacking a greatest hits record, “Remain in Memory” is a perfect starter album for those just discovering the band and a nice keepsake for longtime fans.

The De’Villes
Switch Blades & Heartaches

Motherbox Records

New York has a storied history of churning out stellar punk bands and The De’Villes are no exception. On their debut, NY Rock and Roll, the Long Island foursome play solid punk rock in the vein of Social Distortion and The Dead Boys. The eight song E.P. starts off strong with “Coulda’ Been My Baby” and doesn’t let up. Jarett Slionski's scratchy vocals complement the band’s sound perfectly. With a subtle nod to rockabilly and the occasional blues riff thrown in, the De’Villes are proof that NY has not lost its touch for launching great bands. Though not known by many outside their turf yet, the group is a full length record away from launching a brilliant career.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hair Metal is Taking Over Again

So Poison front man Bret Michaels is a TV Dating Show super stud now and Axl Rose may be the best thing to happen to Dr. Pepper since the aluminum can, now Def Leppard, the best metal band with a one-armed drummer has just debuted on the Billboard Top 200 charts at #5. Seriously.... There is no punch line there. Well, maybe one. Their first single is a duet with Tim McGraw.

Here's the press release:

Debuts at #5 on Billboard Top 200!

Band’s New Release Garners Highest Charting Debut Since 1992’s Adrenalize

“Nine Lives” Maintains #1 Spot on Classic Rock Chart for Three Solid Weeks

New York, May 7, 2008 – Def Leppard, Great Britain’s premiere arena rock band, released their 14th studio album, Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (Bludgeon Riffola/Island/UMe) this past Tuesday, which has debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top 200, earning Def Leppard their highest-charting debut since their 1992 album Adrenalize. Songs From The Sparkle Lounge contains 11 new songs including the new hit single “Nine Lives,” featuring a groundbreaking collaboration with country music superstar Tim McGraw. The song has been sitting atop the Classic Rock chart at #1 for three weeks, and is also holding at #15 on Mainstream Rock radio. The band recently kicked off the release of their new album last week with a slew of high profile television performances on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and NBC’s The Ellen Degeneres Show.

Recorded last year during month-long stints at lead singer Joe Elliott’s Dublin studio, the album’s title refers to a backstage area called “The Sparkle Lounge” on Def Leppard’s 2006 tour where the band would go to write songs. In addition to the album’s hit single “Nine Lives,” other standout tracks on the album include “C'mon C'mon,” which will be the album’s next single, “Go,” reminiscent of the band’s classic track “Rocket” in its power and aggressive tribal beat; “Love,” an emotive and moving epic song; and the anthemic “Tomorrow,” a song written by guitarist Collen about the death of his father.

Songs From The Sparkle Lounge includes a limited edition custom PIKCARD®, which unlocks the Def Leppard online "Vault” (named after the band's best-selling greatest-hits CD). Inside the “Vault,” Def Leppard fans have exclusive access to a variety of content, contests and memorabilia, featuring highlights such as personal photos from the road, registration to the band's fan club, entry into an exclusive contest to win backstage passes and VIP access the next time Def Leppard comes to the winner's town, new album lyrics - handwritten by Joe Elliott- and a personal message from the band.

In addition to the album, Def Leppard have partnered with Activision Inc.'s (Nasdaq: ATVI) Guitar Hero® III: Legends of Rock on an epic three-song track pack that gave fans an exclusive opportunity to sample the band's #1 new radio single, "Nine Lives," before their upcoming studio album hit stores. The track pack became available starting April 24th and also features live versions of "Photograph" and "Rock of Ages," two of Def Leppard's most beloved chart-toppers from their multi-platinum Pyromania album.

With more than 65 million albums sold worldwide and two prestigious Diamond Awards to their credit, Def Leppard--Joe Elliott (vocals), Vivian Campbell (guitar), Phil Collen (guitar), Rick "Sav" Savage (bass) and Rick Allen (drums)—continues to be one of the most important forces in rock music. Over the course of their career, the band has produced a series of classic groundbreaking albums that set the sound for generations of music fans and artists. The group’s spectacular live shows, filled with powerful melodic rock anthems, have become synonymous with their name and are an institution in the touring industry as they continue to sell out arenas worldwide.