Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cole, Nat King - "The Christmas Song"

Cole, Nat King - The Christmas Song
2009, Capitol

1. The Christmas Song
2. Deck the Hall
3. O Come All Ye Faithful
4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
5. O Tannenbaum
6. O Little Town of Bethlehem
7. I Saw Three Ships
8. O Holy Night
9. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
10. A Cradle in Bethlehem
11. Away in a Manger
12. Joy to the World
13. The First Noel
14. Caroling, Caroling
15. Silent Night
16. Buon Natale
17. All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)
18. The Happiest Christmas Tree
19. The Christmas Song (ft. Natalie Cole)

I've wanted to replace my Chestnuts Roastin' Nat King Cole collection with a proper one for a long time. This year I finally did it. If you're looking for a Nat collection, this is the one to get. I like that the balance of songs on here is more toward the hymns and carols and less to the silly, fun songs. Not that there's anything wrong with silly, fun songs - I just like more of a balance. Now I just have to get some Frank Sanatra and I'll have the "holy trinity" of Christmas performers.

Useless Fact: I am happy to report that there is no version of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" on this disc.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Vengeance Rising - "Released Upon the Earth"

Vengeance Rising - Released Upon the Earth
1992/2014, Roxx 

1. Help Me
2. The Damnation of Judas and the Salvation of the Thief
3. Released Upon the Earth
4. Human Dark Potential
5. Instruments of Death
6. Lest You Be Judged
7. Out of Bounds
8. Bishop of Souls
9. Tion
10. You Will Be Hated
Bonus Tracks
11. Interview (Daniel & Johnny)
12. Interview (George Ochoa)

Released Upon the Earth is a much better album than Destruction Comes. I think this is due in part to Roger having some help from people like Jimmy Brown (Deliverance), Johnny Vasquez (Sacred Warrior), and Jamie Mitchell (Scaterd Few). I think Roger wanted to move to a more death metal sound as a few tracks on this album boarder on that ("Human Dark Potential" and "Instruments of Death"). Still, it's not quite up there with the first two albums. Simplistic riffs still abound but the fantastic drumming, Roger's unique lyrical style, and overall vibe manage to make it enjoyable. There's even some pretty good bass work by Victor Macias (Tourniquet). Specifically, the bass line in "Lest You Be Judged" is just sick - one of the best tracks, by the by. It's odd that the album begins with a six-minute "almost instrumental" with "Help Me." It's a plodding and ponderous song that's quite unsettling when you remember just what was going on with Roger at the time. Hearing him scream "HELP ME! SOMEBODY HELP ME!" kind of puts chills down my spine. 

Released has just been... well... released by Roxx Records. It has been remastered and expanded a little bit. There are a couple interviews included as bonus tracks along with some liner notes by the touring guitarist. The remaster sounds great and the artwork and design is awesome too. They even kept that strange font the song titles were written in on the original edition. That earns some definite points with me. 

Useless Fact: "Tion" will rip to your Itunes as "Zion" so keep that in mind.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pentatonix - "That's Christmas To Me"

Pentatonix - That's Christmas To Me
2014, RCA

1. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
2. White Winter Hymnal
3. Sleigh Ride
4. Winter Wonderland/Don't Worry Be Happy
5. That's Christmas To Me
6. Mary, Did You Know?
7. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
8. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
9. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
10. Silent Night
Bonus Track
11. Let It Go

I heard about Pentatonix on Facebook. One or two of my Facebook friends were writing statuses like, "ZOMG! PENTATONIX IS THE BEST THING EVAR!!!11!!!" Or something to that effect. So I asked my wife if she knew who they were and then she pulled them up on You Tube for me. Holy smokes! They may not be the best thing ever but they are dang good. I'm not even really into a capella music that much. The things they do with their voices and song arrangements are really a thing of beauty. This Christmas album is superb - definitely an instant classic. Everyone's voices are so smooth! So wonderful! This album is such a success because they give all these holiday classics a unique twist that you're not going to hear anywhere else. I mean... they do "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" just with their voices.... and it rocks. I would go as far as to say that if you can't find something about these kids to like then you're an idiot.

Useless Fact: The bass singer looks like Josh Grobin. The tall white guy looks like a Twilight vampire.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Amaranthe - "Massive Addictive"

Amaranthe - Massive Addictive
2014, Spinefarm

1. Dynamite
2. Drop Dead Cynical
3. Trinity
4. Massive Addictive
5. Digital World
6. True
7. Unreal
8. Over and Done
9. Danger Zone
10. Skyline
11. An Ordinary Abnormality
12. Exhale

Imagine my surprise when I found out Amaranthe was releasing a new album this year. I'd only just gotten into The Nexus earlier this spring. Amaranthe is one of those bands whose music instantly puts me in a good mood. Massive Addictive continues the metal/pop/dance fusion with plenty of high energy, upbeat songs. However, while the pace on the last album seldom let up, the band slows things down ever so slightly and lets the songs breath a little. There are a lot more mid-paced songs here - the first single, "Drop Dead Cyincal" and the title track being a perfect examples. With the slower pace comes a lot more variety and creativity I think. Not to say the band has gone soft - far from it. It's just not a non-stop high speed train to the end of the disc anymore. My biggest complaint is the song lengths. Most are just over three minutes and some have enough life that they could linger a bit longer. Amaranthe seems to be getting some traction in the U.S. now having opened up for Within Temptation. I hope they catch on here in a big way because they're a great band.

Useless Fact: They've switched growlers but I can't remember the name of the old one, nor the new one. Also, I think "Unreal" is a song about soccer.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Weezer - "Everything Will Be Alright In The End"

Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright In The End
2014, Universal

1. Ain't Got Nobody
2. Back to the Shack
3. Eulogy For a Rock Band
4. Lonely Girl
5. I've Had it Up to Here
6. The British Are Coming
7. Da Vinci
8. Go Away
9. Cleopatra
10. Foolish Father
11. The Futurescope Trilogy
          a. The Waste Lands
          b. Anonymous
          c. Return to Ithaka

I was pretty much done with Weezer after Raditude. A lot of people were. Raditude was such a light inconsequential album. There was one good song that I remember and the rest was just filler and fluff. Shortly thereafter they released Hurley which I didn't even bother to investigate. I was justified in doing so by the reviews which amount to, "not as bad as Raditude." I'd written off Weezer as a band who'd never make another good album again. However, a couple months ago a Rolling Stone article passed before my eyes announcing Weezer's new album and their "return to their roots." I usually roll my eyes at this because waning bands have a tendency to say this whenever a new album comes out. It's usually all smoke and mirrors and the band makes whatever album they feel like. I did hold a cautious hope that maybe this time was true...

Then I heard, "Back to the Shack." A song were Rivers Cuomo pretty much states outright that, "Yeah, all those albums weren't very good because I was trying to be world famous." "Back to the Shack" was a fun song and my hope for a good album burned brighter. It also takes a a certain kind of person to write an apology song like that. Now that I've digested this album for almost a month do I have good news or bad news?

Good news. Great news. Everything Will Be Alirght In The End is a fantastic album. It does represent a return to their roots in some aspects. "Ain't Got Nobody" sounds like it could have come from Pinkerton and "Lonely Girl" echoes the thick chords and down picking that characterized a lot of the Blue Album. I think the thing that really makes this a good album, aside from some of the best songs the band has put out in fifteen years or so, is the energy. There's so much infectious energy here! You can tell the band decided that, successful or no, they would put out the absolute best album they could without worrying about the charts. Heck, they've even got an epic closing track ("The Futurescope Trilogy") that's dang near progressive. I kind of like seeing that side of them. Welcome back, Weezer! We missed you!

Useless Fact: "The British Are Coming" is about the American Revolution. No, really. I guess they wanted to write an Iron Maiden song in Weezer style!