Showing posts with label post-grunge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label post-grunge. Show all posts

Thursday, September 21, 2017

video review: 'concrete and gold' by foo fighters

I'm surprised the response to this review hasn't been more negative... huh, interesting.

But let's handle some old business here first...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

album review: 'concrete and gold' by foo fighters

So there was an article written by veteran music journalist Steven Hyden I was reading that encompassed a lot of my feelings about the Foo Fighters quite aptly, in that they were a band that became spokesmen for modern rock radio... despite not really putting out critically acclaimed rock records. It's actually a little bit alarming, when you think about it: this is a band where it's been twenty years since they released what many would consider their best record The Color And The Shape, and ever since then? Yeah, some dependable singles but beyond that most people don't celebrate Foo Fighters records as album statements in the same way they would in rock's heyday. And you can make all sorts of wild extrapolations as to whether the decline of rock in mainstream culture is linked to its most recognizable act only being pretty good instead of exceptional, but at the end of the day, while I might enjoy parts of a Foo Fighters record, odds are I won't remember much of it beyond a few choice cuts.

And all the buzz coming out of Concrete and Gold wasn't exactly helping my fears here. Their touring keyboardist Rami Jaffee was finally upgraded to full band status, but with rumors suggesting that this was going to be a poppier record with producer Greg Kurstin didn't exactly raise my confidence, especially when the reviews were suggesting that they weren't pushing the boundaries as much as they had with Sonic Highways - and even that, that was a pretty reserved record in terms of experimentation. And when you are nine records into a career that's spanned multiple decades with an established fanbase, especially with rock radio continuing to feel irrelevant to modern pop culture, they had nothing to lose by coloring outside the lines, especially as Dave Grohl was always going to ensure the Foo Fighters didn't lose their trademark sound and intensity. But okay, does Concrete And Gold deliver?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

video review: 'no fixed address' by nickelback

Ugh, that should take care of the duds this week. Man, what a mess.

Okay, next up... hmm, either that Savages/Bo Ningen project, that critically acclaimed Lucette debut, or that Leighton Meester album everyone keeps yammering about. Decisions, decisions. Either way, stay tuned!

album review: 'no fixed address' by nickelback

I know a lot of people who hate Nickelback.

And here's the thing, most of you don't get it if you don't live up here in Canada. For as much as Nickelback ruled the radio across the Bush administration, they were much more omnipresent here in Canada, where regulations require the radio play a certain amount of Canadian content. And sure, we get Metric, Marianas Trench, Serena Ryder, and a slew of other great Canadian acts, but it also means that of the many singles Nickelback charts, they all get airplay up here.

And it's probably from that broader point-of-view that I can say this with certainty - trust a guy who knows, there are a lot worse bands than Nickelback. The band got hit with the 'worst band ever' label not because they were legitimately that much more terrible than their peers - when Three Days Grace, Creed, Seether, Hinder, and Theory Of A Deadman have produced far worse music - but Nickelback were everywhere in the 2000s and that's made their mediocrity a lot easier to hate. Now granted, Nickelback have written some terrible songs, especially when they were trying to go for any pretensions of depth, but there was a place for a few of them, when they catered to the lowest common denominator of hard rock debauchery and sleaze. And to be fair, it was a much better fit for Chad Kroeger's voice than the insufferable bitching of songs like 'This Is How You Remind Me' or 'Someday' or 'Saving Me' or the pretentious platitudes of 'Gonna Be Somebody', 'If Today Was Your Last Day', and especially 'If Everyone Cared'. To me, Nickelback worked best on grimy tracks about fighting, drinking, screwing, and behaving like swaggering rock star assholes, completely awash in bad taste almost analogous to Katy Perry.

Now some of you are inevitably thinking, 'Wait, you rip on bro-country all the time when it gets sleazy and ignorant in much of the same formula, are you seriously giving Nickelback a pass'? And let me make this clear, I'm not doing that - catering to the lowest common denominator will only get you so far, and Nickelback can get away with more than most mostly thanks to Chad Kroeger having a lot of presence behind the mic, the band developing more of a rock edge, and some genuinely solid songs like 'This Afternoon' and 'Burn It To The Ground'. But there are huge tracts of their discography that pushes the sleaze into uncomfortable territory, and it's rarely enough fun to back it up. But most of the hatred they get isn't for that reason - no, it's not about hating Nickelback but hating the fans of Nickelback for supposedly giving them a free pass - something that rings more than a little hypocritical from some critics who have praised similar brands of vulgarity when it comes from hip-hop or metal or R&B. Say what you will about Nickelback's Dark Horse, for as gross as most of the album is, at least it's honest and knows what it is.

That being said, with Nickelback's commercial decline in the 2010s, they have aimed to diversify their sound a bit. Recruiting Joey Moi to produce for their 2011 album Here And Now proved surprisingly effective in adding some punch and meat to their usual formula, although that album felt bogged down in unnecessary and really quite embarrassing ballads. In other words, I had no idea how good their newest album No Fixed Address would turn out to be - so what did we get?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

video review: 'sonic highways' by foo fighters

While there could have been more to this album, it's still solidly enjoyable, and I still liked it.

Okay, next up... hmm, either Big KRIT or Garth Brooks, because I need a little more time with Pink Floyd. Stay tuned!

album review: 'sonic highways' by foo fighters

You know, for as big of an act as the Foo Fighters are, I don't think I've ever, in public or private, really given a comprehensive opinion about the band. I've talked at length about many of their contemporaries, some great and some awful, but I haven't really talked about Dave Grohl's post-grunge turned arena rock band in, well, ever. I think it's time I rectify that.

So, the Foo Fighters are, for me, a defining example of a pretty damn good band. Not a great one, not an all-time classic act, and it'll definitely be interesting to see how long their historical legacy lasts in comparison with their peers, but a pretty damn good rock band. There's a lot of common opinions about the Foo Fighters as well - their best material was in the late 90s, they really are more of a singles act over structuring cohesive albums, and a lot of their material sounds the same. Having revisited the entire Foo Fighters discography... well, they're not wrong, although Wasting Light was a solid step to reinvigorate the band. But tapping into the reasons why gets trickier. For one, as potent of a frontman as Dave Grohl is, some of his more serious, hyper-earnest, 'we're the last real band in rock' self-aggrandizing gets exasperating - and the sad fact is with the decline of hard rock in the mainstream, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. But on the other hand, earnestness is one of the Foo Fighters' greatest strengths - you believe Grohl when he's howling or singing, and the band's knack for a melodic hook has kept them a steady draw for years. On the flip side... okay, lyricism has never been their strong point, and many, many songs fall into easy cliche and feel more broadly sketched than they really should. But once again, there's another side to this, as broadness can work well in the fist-pumping anthems the Foo Fighters can make like clockwork.

So you can bet I was intrigued by their newest album Sonic Highways, reportedly recorded in eight different American studios in order to capture the unique musical vibe of each city. And not only that, with each song they brought on guests to enhance the roots-driven sound, from Joe Walsh to Ben Gibbard to Zac Brown, the last of which was the biggest draw for me being a massive Zac Brown Band fan. On the other hand, I also know the Foo Fighters - we weren't likely to see Little Big Town levels of experimentation on this record, and at the end of the day they'd still probably sound like the Foo Fighters. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

album review: 'love, lust, faith, and dreams' by 30 seconds to mars

I've written extensively before about good acts that I just don't care about. These are groups or singers that I can acknowledge are talented and good, but they don't provoke any reaction from me, and despite my efforts, I can't get excited about these bands. It really does bug me, but everyone has their own personal tastes and I can understand why some acts just aren't my thing.

So what about the acts that I don't care about who aren't good? Well, for the most part, they don't get a lot of thought or energy from me, because I'm not one who enjoys hating things just for the sake of hating them. It's a lot of energy giving a shit about things I despise, so really, when I discover acts that don't provoke a reaction from me and who suck, the only thing I can do is just ignore them. And really, this works out rather well, because I don't have to worry about pissing off fanboys or about maintaining a steady stream of vitriol.

And for the longest time, 30 Seconds To Mars was one of those acts. I knew they existed, I knew they had fans, I knew that some people I liked in university liked their music, and really, that was the extent of my knowledge of this band. And when faced with the choice to review either the new 30 Seconds To Mars album or Random Access Memories, the new Daft Punk album that seems to be the second coming of Saturday Night Fever for the modern age, I chose to buck the trend. Instead of reviewing the new Daft Punk like everyone and their cat, I chose to go after 30 Seconds To Mars. I mean, I was expecting a mediocre act, and I had always heard that lead singer Jared Leto was a little pissy, so I didn't exactly hope for much when I started going through their discography. I had low expectations.