Sunday, December 30, 2007

Blink Without The 182

After Blink 182 released "Take Off Your Pants And Jacket" the band took a sort of hiatus. Well Tom Delonge took a hiatus and Mark and Travis waited. Tom used this time to spend with his family ... and record a self-titled album with side-project Box Car Racer. This is commonly thought to be the thorn that started the fall of Blink 182. Tom asked Travis Barker to help on drums, however he recorded all the bass-lines himself and hired Anthony Celestino for videos and touring.

It is thought that Mark Hoppus felt slighted by his exclusion from this project, but who knows what the truth is. Tom Delonge used Box Car Racer to record a number of songs he felt did not fit Blink 182's sound. It is in my opinion that if Blink 182 released an album called "Box Car Racer" featuring those songs, I don't think I would have been disappointed.

I would have been slightly taken aback by the mellower sound and matureness, but in the end I would have been impressed with the bands growth. Blink's last album was showing signs of maturity, yet a little split on its overall sound. The band was looking for a change whether they knew it or not. All the same, this is not the case and Tom Delonge's side-project Box Car Racer served its purpose and after some touring is now disbanded. What is the music like you ask? Well ...

The album starts with their first single "I Feel So" whose discordant piano and mechanical intro leads us into the punky and melodic signature riff. The verses are slower that grow into an emotional chorus and hooky guitar work. This would not have felt out of place on a Blink 182 album. In fact the second track "All Systems Go" is a blink-like song that's catchy and melodic with a pop/punk sound ripped from "Take Off Your Pants"

"Tiny Voices" quirky guitar work and moving bridge is not so different then say "Story Of A Lonely Guy" and "Stay Together For The Kids". And the same could be said with "And I" whose dark reflectiveness underlines the pop/punk melody. Throw in the fast and short "My First Punk Song" which is the most punk song Tom and or Blink 182 have ever done. So far a pretty good Blink 182 album.

The real difference can be seen on the slower songs whose sound is more post punk almost alternative. Whether it's the groovy "Cat Like Thief" with the walking melody and memorable guest vocals and Tom's airiness makes for one of mellowest songs here. "Elevator" groove is repetitive, yet catchy and fun. Mark Hoppus guest vocals on this song so he wasn't completely shunned and bringing in Blink 182's dual vocal harmonies that are unmistakable. A fun Song.

My favourite tracks are the more sombre and reflective pieces like "Watch The World"s quietly moving anthem build into a passionate, yet discordant crescendo. Then there is "Sorrow"s desperate pleading both melodic and crushing. "There Is" is an acoustically driven song that is beautifully heartbreaking and reflective. This isn't boy meets girl anymore, this goes deeper with real emotions. It's a powerfully subtle song and my 2nd favourite on this album.

My favourite song is "Letters To God" which is a bare-bones acoustic driven song whose lyrics passionate in their defiant confusion. It's raw sound is fantastic and enhanced when the electric guitars kick and end the song off in a powerfully bleak and moving fashion.

Box Car Racer is a great album full of catchy songs full of emotions performed with conviction. Whether this was the straw that broke Blink 182's back, maybe, but listening to Tom and Mark's dual vocals singing ~Let's forget this, all move on ~ on "Elevator" to me says otherwise.

A year later Blink 182 released a self-titled and final album. That's coming up next.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I can't remember exactly when I first heard Sound Of The Dead records compilation album "Brutal Christmas: A Season In Chaos", but I remember stumbling across the SOTD records site and they had an mp3 medley of the various christmas tracks available on "Brutal Christmas" and it was at that point that I had to have it. I knew it would be terribly cheesy or absolutely awesome. It is both and I love it.

The main guy at SOTD records had heard Deliverance's cover of "Silent Night" (A touchingly faithful cover with some killer thrash riffing and an slightly darker edge) and thought ~hey why isn't there an album of various extreme metal bands performing their own interpretations of traditional christmas carols? ~ . Now seeing as he owned a record company (now defunct, unrelated to the album I'm sure) and knew of several metals bands who could contribute. He ended up with "Brutal Christmas", a compilation of 11 bands performing Christmas carols like you've never heard them before. This is why I'll be giving each track a little blurb.

First off we have a thrashy cover of "Angels We Have Heard On High" by Archer. This has a great solo riff of the songs melody opening and closing the track. Though a faithful rendition it manages to have some killer riffing and blistering drum work. A shining start.

Next is Kekal's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" which is standard Kekal fair. Kekal is an Indonesian Christian black metal band who are industrial. It's an interesting mix. Though the melody is not as traditional, Kekal manage to give the song a fresh sound while not ruining it.

Then it's "Mary Did You Know" by Royal Anguish (featuring guest performance by Henrik from Mistral). Royal Anguish do a passionate rendition while sticking to their distinct sound of progressive death metal. The song uses mostly clean vocals and some fine guitar work and keyboards. If Mary didn't know, she knows now!

Frank's Enemy destroy all that is "Lully Lullay" with their performance of "Coventry Carol (Lully Lullay)". It starts off with a renaissance sound and female vocals that are traditional, yet slightly unsettling. The music gets warped and woozy just before the band obliterates any sense of melody with their brand of sickenly brutal death metal. They do slow it up with some crunchy guitar work and a single bell. It's very disturbing and darkly sinister. The song ends with the chilling renaissance sound and female vocals. Oh those Frank's Enemy boys are one of the most brutal metal bands I've ever heard.

The renaissance sound continues on the intro to Frost Like Ashes "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence/O Come Emmanuel" with use of a harpsichord. The the band kicks in with brutal black/death metal rendition of "Let All Mortal ..." It's fast and pummelling. They slow it down into a gothy doom bit while transitioning into "O Come Emmanuel" and once we catch our breath we are blasted again into "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence". There is no silence here.

Tortured Conscience's old school death metal rendition of "Little Drummer Boy" is worth the price of the CD. It is so brutal it's almost silly. It is extreme death metal at it's best. The bone-crushing drum work is blistering, but the melody is still recognizable. Though it may get mocked (featured on the Howard Stern show) they perform the song faithfully with a little touch of good ol' death metal to enhance it. I would have liked to see a killer drum solo here, but maybe that's just me.

Hearken pull of a very melodic death metal cover of "O Come All Ye Faithful". It's mid-paced heavy with some nice off timed drumming and very melodic vocals that defy anyone who says death metal vocals can't carry melody.

I am unfamiliar with the song "Child Messiah" and cannot find an alternate version to compare to (maybe they changed the title?!?) But Death Requisite pull off some nice black metal here with hints of ethnic flavour in some of the melody. Good work

Eversinceve toss off a 7 min version of "O Holy Night" that is pure metalcore. The death/black metal vocals are great and the music is brutally faithful. The heavy breakdowns are mosh worthy and the middle bridge is stirring. But what I love here is the raw emotion inherit throughout the song. It is by far the most passionate song here because of its brutality.

Lucky for Faithbomb that Kekal's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is uniquely their own or else we might have had some repetition. Faithbomb's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (take 2)" is faithful to the melody, one really fast with some brutally heavy breakdowns. at a minute twenty, this is the shortest song here, but it delivers.

Pure Defiance closes the album out with a Christmasy sounding mid-paced thrash rendition of "Joy To The World". It's upliftingly wicked, with some fine thrash work in the middle and wailing soloing. It ends the album on a lighter note without losing the metal edge carried through the album.

As much as I love "Little Drummer Boy" I'd have to go with Eversinceve's "O Holy Night" as my fave, it's just so moving. This album is a must for any metalhead to own and crank through the holidays. I also have a silly cover of "Do They Know It's Christmas" by the Deftones, though faithfully done, is almost mocking, but not quite. As well as a Rush-esque cover of "O Come Emmanuel" with hints of Pink Floyd and new age. I don't know who the artist is though. And lastly if you can check out Korn's disgustingly brutal death metal version of Jingle Bell's... It's brilliant.

This is it for the Christmas posts, but come on back this coming Sunday for my continuation of Blink 182 and their side projects. I'll be starting with Box Car Racer

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas In Glam ...

A friend of mine gave me "Monster Ballads Xmas" which honestly I don't think I would have bought so it all works out. However, it actually is a surprisingly eclectic collection of Christmas tunes. Some covers, some original but all around a decent album that was not quite what I was expecting.

The album kicks off with Skid Row's punky take on "Jingle Bells" which is raw and fun (but it ain't no death metal gem from Korn). It gets the album moving fast. Danger Danger offer up "Naughty, Naughty Christmas" which is a straight rock song and what I expected as is Jani Lane's glammy hard rock cover of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". It starts off slower and gets fun and peppy in a Warrant way.

Styper's live recording of "Winter Wonderland" is a solid rock song faithful to the melody whilst adding some touches of blues. LA Guns add a bluesy rock touch to "Run Rudolph Run" and Firehouse brings out the grit on the rock n roll classic "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree". But its Tom Keifer's "Blue Christmas" that reminds us of why Cinderella were masters of Blues rock. It has some nice solo work and Tom's voice is smoother than the rough screech I remember.

Nelson's glammed up "Jingle Bell Rock" is a faithful cover, but the production seems weak and the cymbals get on my nerves and . However, Enuff Z'Nuff's pc ditty "Happy Holidays" is surprisingly catchy. It's a slower rocker, but has some nice hooks. Billy Idols "Christmas Love" is a acoustic folk-like tune with a 60's sound and closes the album off.

The stand out tracks are Queensryche' "White Christmas" is very much what I'd expect from this band from Geoff Tate's soaring vocals to the airy electric guitars adding some nice solos and atmosphere to the crisp acoustic picking. A wonderful version that does lose the songs sentimentality. On the other hand Faster Pussycat's "Silent Night" is almost unrecognizable as a gothic tinged industrial tune. A very cool and funky cover, but not quite the sleazy rock sound I remember them as.

My favourite I'd say is Dokken's heavy cruncher cover "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". It is a slower mid-paced metal song that adds just enough dark tones to make one wary of this red-suited stranger coming into our homes. A great version.

All around this isn't too bad, but I find I like certain songs as opposed to sitting through the whole album. Though it is a good start in the right direction for more hard rock/heavy metal Christmas albums.

Up next is a re-posting of my favourite Christmas album and it has yet to be dethroned.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My True Love Gave To Me ... A Tattoo Of Ozzy...

Last year Twisted Sister have done what I hope more metal bands do. Release a Christmas album. I also hope the metal bands do it with the same bravado passion that Twisted Sister does. "A Twisted Christmas" is the first new release by Twisted Sister in like over a decade (sans the re-recorded "Stay Hungry" called "Still Hungry" with bonus tracks). And this is a fitting return to form.

As a Twisted fan, I'm in the ~I love the "Stay Hungry" album and I am not real familiar with their other work~ group and I put the Christmas release up there with "Stay Hungry". "A Twisted Christmas" is a flat out solid hard rock/heavy metal album. From start to finish, it's thick solid riffs and pounding drums and even Dee himself supplies some of his best vocal work.

The album starts of with an acoustic guitar strumming and Dee Snider crooning "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" before a band member (I think drummer AJ Pero) interjects with a ~Hey this isn't Twisted Sister, this is!~ and a thunderous drum beat begins and those solid rock riffs come in to turn this little ditty into a very rocking Christmas carol. The intro reminds me of Kermit, Floyd and Animals cover of "Wild Thing" off of "Kermit Unpigged"

It was quoted in Entertainment weekly last year that of all the covers of this song, songwriter "Hugh Martin" was most curious to hear Twisted Sisters version. If that's not a selling point, then I don't know what is.

How about "O Come All Ye Faithful" done the tune of "We're Not Gonna Take It". That is worth the price alone. I have mixed feeling on this song. I don't know if I should enjoy this brilliant re-imaging or be disturbed that Twisted Sister ripped off a Christmas Carol ... I don't know... ah I just kidding, it's a brilliant move and a great cover. And you can't mistake that killer drum beat anywhere.

"Silver Bells", "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and "Deck The Halls" are all solid crunchy hard rock tunes with anthemic choruses and cool solos. Even "Deck The Halls" has a slight dark, gothy edge to it. Pretty sweet!

"I'll Be Home For Christmas" features a duet with Lita Ford who joins Dee Snider on the mic to make this the heavy metal ballad of Christmas time and a song I'd like to see featured on any number of the Christmas special on this time of year!

"The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)" is another slower song, but no less chunky. Some solid guitar work here. And "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" is almost punk like in energy and has a cool riff.

The goofy album closer "The Twelve Days Of Christmas (A Heavy Metal Christmas)" is not high on my list of favourites here, but its corny heavy metal themed lyrical take on "The Twelve Days Of Christmas" is silly enough to carry me through to the end of the album. It's tongue in cheek, but is a solid heavy metal tune.

For an album I thought would be deliciously cheesy, I was blown away by the solid thick guitar sound and booming drums in what is a surprisingly thunderous production of some Christmas classics. A real treat for any Twisted Fan or of unique takes on Christmas carols.

It's so good, I listen to it all year round.

Coming up tomorrow is my review of "Monster Ballads Xmas".

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The World That She Sees Through Ghosts Of Christmas Eve

On Trans-Siberian Orchestra's (TSO) 2nd release "The Christmas Attic" we get more if the transposed Christmas Carols into rock gems, but I feel there is more of an emphasis on original songs and a power ballad sensibility. I find I reach for each of TSO's albums equally and all for different reasons. They are all similar, yet each have there own sound. "The Christmas Attic" has no short transitional pieces found on their first album, but with 16 tracks the album clocks at over an hour and that's fine with me.

The story here is of how a girl, with the help of a young angel, finds the Christmas spirit by helping old friends re-unite using old letters of theirs she discovered in her attic. The story is heartwarming and emotional, but it's cool to like like it because of the killer rock tunes. Ah who am I kidding, I'm a sucker for a decent heartwarming tale.

The album starts off with the sticky sweet "Ghosts Of Christmas Eve" whose tinkling piano melody and almost narrative vocals sets a sugary mood for the rest of the album.

"Boughs Of Holly" kicks in as the first traditional Christmas tune and gives "Deck The Halls" a rock n roll make over. "March Of The Kings/Hark The Harold Angels Sing" and "Joy/Angels We Have Heard On High" are the Christmas instrumentals ("Joy..." features a vocal mid part and isn't fully instrumental) . "Boughs ..." is fun and flourished with some fine guitar work, "March ..." has a more progressive rock feel with some dark undertones early in the song before bursting into a powerful take on "Hark The Harold ...". "Joy/Angels ..." is slower and a more faithful rendition, but no less moving.

"Appalachian Snowfall" is an original instrumental and it's sparkling and fun. One of my favourite songs here is "Midnight Christmas Eve" which is another original instrumental. It's a brilliant, moving song with a deceivingly simple melody, but builds into a multi-layered guitar masterpiece. reminds me of the layered guitar work at the end of Savatage's "Believe".

There seems to be a number of power ballad-like songs here with "The World That She Sees", "Find Our Way Home", "The Snow Came Down" and a rousing rendition of "Angels We Have Heard On High" that interjects "Joy/Angels ...". "The World That She Sees" is a moving ballad with a sweet piano melody and some powerful vocals.

"Find Our Way Home" is more a traditional power ballad with a piano/guitar mix. The vocals are gritty and raw sung by (I think) Thomas Farese who I believe also sings on my album favourite "The Snow Came Down". "The Snow Came Down" is another raw and gritty power ballad with passionate and moving lyrics.

Daryl Pediford makes his studio appearance on this album singing on "The Three Kings (What Really Happened)". This is a bluesy jazz number and Daryl's booming bluesy voice is brilliant. The song is a play on the Three Kings who travel to find Jesus. It's fun and energetic and has some nice guitar work. "Christmas Canon" is on this album whose radio abuse is only 2nd to "Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24". This is the child's choir version and is moving and angelic. A great piece.

"The Christmas Attic" is a great follow up to "Christmas Eve And Other Stories" and shows the band knows what they are doing and how they want to do it. It has more of sentimental feel and more gooey in its Christmas Spirit. You can't be angry listening to this gem.

Tomorrow, I'll be review Twisted Sisters "Twisted Christmas". Come on back!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Tour 2007

It's getting pretty close to the big day ... Christmas that is, so I thought I'd try to squeeze in a few reviews of Christmas theme albums this week, so check back frequently (wink,wink). I'm hoping to have 5 posts between now and Christmas Day.

My festive spirit starts on the day of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas concert. This year I caught them twice. Once with a friend (their first show) and once on my own sitting in the floor seats 10 rows back. So I thought it fitting to start this Christmas series with a little run down of the shows.

Both were essentially identical with a few new faces this year, mainly the Bass player Chris Altenhoff who stepped into Dave Z's shoes and a female backing vocalist Alexa Goddard. And gone was Tany Ling the opera singer who delighted us with "Queen Of The Winter Night" off of The Lost Christmas Eve album.

The first half of the show as always is the heartwarming story of an Angel who must bring back a gift to his Lord from the Earth and his journey. The first half has slightly changed over the years with the addition of songs from the new album, but essentially has stayed the same.

From the opening notes of "Angel Came Down" underscoring Brian Hicks' booming narrative, we are whisked away with the Angel on his search.

I always look forward to the song "O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night" simply for the moving drop/hanging note played by Alex Skolnick at the end of the song. One of my favourite bits. Over the years he has flourished it with some fancy finger work which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, but this year he nailed it.

The other highlights of the first half are Jay Pierce's blues/jazz song "Prince Of Peace" whose reigns he took over from Daryl Pediford after Daryl's passing. Jay has really made this song his own and has fun with it.

Jennifer Cello belts out a power balled version of "Promises To Keep" which I adore as well as the "Christmas Canon Rock" which she leads.

And don't worry Steve Broderick continues to ruin my favourite TSO song "Old City Bar" each and every year. Don't get me wrong, he sings the song well (think Soul Asylum-ish) but he slows it down, which for a song whose running time is over 6 min. it just seems to drag. That and the albums raw and gritty sound is brilliant and therefore, I'm always left disappointed.

"First Snow" is fun with the fake snowfall added for interaction and the radio abused "Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24" is always a crowd pleaser.

After a short break with band and singer introductions mc'd by Chris Caffery, TSO delves into a mish mash of other Christmas songs as well as some of Beethoven's Last Night material for the 2nd half.

James Lewis starts the 2nd half off with "Christmas Nights In Blue" with a hymn like/classic rock cover of "Proud Mary" thrown in for fun. The band also busts out "Christmas Jam" which is fun.

"Beethoven's Fifth" is a heavy and dark tune that I look forward to in part cause of the grandiose pyro, the same with "Figaro".

The highlight for me is the superb cover of Carl Orff's "O' Fortuna" which is gothic and heavy and one the freakiest pieces of music period. This tune is to be featured on the bands up-coming 5th release and 2nd non-Christmas album Night Castle .... eventually.

Other highlights are "A Last Illusion" with its "Flight Of The Bumble Bee" melody split with another Christmas Carol from Lost Christmas Eve. I preferred it when they kept "A Last Illusion" with "Ode To Joy" at the like the album version, but I guess they should mix up the set list a bit. The band has fun with this song though.

And the evening wouldn't be over without an encore performance of "Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24" which they cap the concert of with using more pyro and I rising platform that Chris Caffery and guest (this year was Steve Broderick filling in on guitar). An energetic and fun close to an entertaining and heartwarming concert.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra is the show I catch every year. I been going ever since they started touring Canada around 5 odd years ago. The music is fun and energetic and full of Christmas spirit. It has grown into a huge show with pyro and fireworks and one heck of a bang for your buck.

Add to it the killer drum solo by Jeff Plate (not enough concerts feature drum solo's anymore) and the chance to meet and get autographs after each show and you have a very memorable night out.

Up next I'll be reviewing Tran-Siberian Orchestra's 2nd release "The Christmas Attic" being posted tomorrow. Till then feel free to catch up on my review of their first album "Christmas Eve And Other Stories" here

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Is This The End Of Blink 182 ...?

On Blink 182's fourth major label release "Take Off Your Pants And Jacket" (whose title pun was lost on me for months, embarrassingly enough) we see the bands music almost split with some songs resorting to the pop/punk style of "Enema Of The State" and some songs taking on darker more mature themes and a little more experimental sound.

If you ask me, you can hear the debates and discussions of the bands future musical direction going on and the varying musical styles is a compromise of sorts, which would lead Tom Delonge to form Box Car Racer to let loose on some non-Blink like tunes (that review will come shortly after Christmas).

Again, this album is quite well done continuing to prove that Blink 182 are strong song craftsmen. However, the lyrics get a bit more vulgar leaving one to think they were trying to appeal to a certain audience. Yet some lyrics are surprisingly mature are compassionate. That said, even their stereotypical teen angst lyrics and juvenile songs are far superior to others in the same genre. I've always enjoyed Blink 182's lyrics.

The album starts off with "Anthem Pt.2" which is melodic and bleaker continuation of "Anthem" off "Enema Of The State". Musically this song shows some growth, but keeps the standard kids against the adults lyrics. "On-Line Songs" is fast and punky as is the funny and vulgar tune "Happy Holidays, You Bastard".

For the most part the songs continue in the melodic riffing style of "Enema ..." with dual vocals switching off by Tom and Mark. "The Rock Show", "Roller Coaster" and "Every time I Look For You" are the stand out tracks of this style. They have catchy riffs and moving bridges.

"Reckless Abandon" and "Shut Up" are a couple of the maturer tunes. "Reckless Abandons" carefree style is faster, melodic with slightly darker edges. "Shut Up" is a bit more aggressive, yet moving.

My favourite tracks here are also some of the more maturer songs on this album. "Story Of A Lonely Guy" which has some cool melodic riffwork with a darker tone for their usual boy meets girl themes. One of the more memorable songs here. "Stay Together For The Kids" is also melodic with cool riffs and lyrics that are poignant and heartfelt.

The band released 3 different versions with different bonus tracks. My copy features "Hold On" which is fast and punky and almost a throw back to the "Cheshire Cat" days. The other is "What Went Wrong" a sweet acoustic tune whose simple melody and wretchedly vulgar lyrics (not for the easily offended) make for a contrasting treat.

"Take Off Your Pants And Jacket" marks a distinct change in Blink 182's sound, more so in the clearly different styles in song writing then quality. It's this album that marks Blink's beginning of the end and it would one more album before the band calls it splits.

Up next will be some Christmas album reviews to celebrate the festive season. Look for a few updates starting next weekend. And then after Christmas I'll continue the Blink 182 career with Tom's first side-project Box Car Racer.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

When Punk Goes Pop

Blink 182 hit the mainstream with their "Enema Of The State" album and also showed their growth as songwriters. Here they move into a more post-punk sound concentrating more on melodic riffing then pounding power chords.

However, despite the lesser punk edge and the mainstream success, I found that Blink 182 still retained their distinct sound and super catchy tunes. I felt they were still creating music they wanted to showing maturity while knowing their main audience. These are guys who were gradually stepping away from their juvenile roots, but never abandoning them.

"Enema ..." starts off with the super hooky "Dumpweed" whose melodic riffing and harmonic vocals pulls you right in. "Going Away To College" and the album closer "Anthem" are similar in style with the latter being fast and closest to their "Dude Ranch" sound.

"Aliens Exist", "Mutt" and "Wendy Clear" are all rhythmic and groove oriented and though there is a poppier edge, they still sound like Blink 182.

"What's My Age Again?" is a catchy song that epitomizes (in my opinion) the bands attitude towards maturing yet feeling immature about their lyrical themes. It speaks volumes about peoples attitudes towards getting older. "The Party Song" tackles the juvenile themes and is one of the more punky songs here.

My favourite tracks are the sobering look at teenage suicide on "Adam's Song" for its building, layered riffs and moving and poetic lyrics. And "All The Small Things" with its simplistic 3 chord chunking and fun and cheerfully realistic lyrics on modern romance.

There really isn't a bad song on this album and the move to a more post punk sound is gradual enough to not be a drastic change and off-putting. A thoroughly enjoyable listen.

Right after "Dude Ranch" drummer Scott Rayner departed ways from the band and Mark and Tom asked Travis Barker (from supporting tour band The Aquabats) to fill in on drums for the tour. He became a permanent member and "Enema Of The State" is his debut performance.

Up next we'll take a look at Blink 182's "Take Off Your Pants And Jacket" and then I'll have some special Christmas posts immediately following.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I Guess This Is Growing Up.

"Dude Ranch" for me is THE Blink-182 album. It was on this album that all the parts I liked from various different songs off their earlier work came together perfectly. It was here too that the 182 moniker was appended to Blink due to a law suit by an Irish band named Blink. I think the name change is fitting because the music on "Dude Ranch" is profoundly superior to the earlier releases. They had some great songs in "Carousel" and "Touchdown Boy" and such, but the production is great and there is a maturity to the juvenile-ness that demands to be taken seriously ... in a fun way.

It's like Blink-182 honed in their sound and said ~This is it, love it or leave it~ and I say I love it. This is the first Blink-182 album I owned and "Dammit" is the first song of theirs I heard, but I was surprised at just how solid this release is. From the blistering opening riffs of "Pathetic", the harmonized dual vocals and uber catchy hooks I knew I was in for a treat.

The humour is not lost with their mature sound. Songs like "Voyeur" and "Degenerate" are silly and fun, but are solid good songs with the latter being slower and groove-oriented. "New Hope" is a boy loves girl tune. The girl just happens to be Princess Leia from Star Wars. It's heartwarming in its sentimentality and more shout out then parody. "Josie" is a boy loves girl song in the traditional sense, but it's real and passionate. It's a love song that's aggressive in a my `girlfriend's better then your girlfriend' way, yet honest and sincere.

"Emo" is super catchy and melodic with building bass riffs and harmonic guitars that crescendo in emotion. "Apple Shampoo" is another song that shows real sincerity with narrative, poetic lyrics and emotive music without losing the hooks and sing a long choruses. "Untitled" is another groove-oriented song with a catchy bass riff and standout drum work before kicking in with a blistering punk riff and vocal harmonics.

My favorite tracks include the first single "Dammit" which has a killer riff and emotionally aggressive vocals. Super catchy too. Not as catchy as "Enthused" though. This song opens with "Touchdown Boy" style riffing and blows me away with it's in your face vocals and aggression without ever sacrificing melody with its speed.

My favourite song, however, is the emotionally charged album closer "I'm Sorry". It opens with a melodically moving guitar riff and bass work, before kicking into a fast punk tune that blends speed, melody and harmony that crescendos in an emotional dual vocal attack of ~I'm Sorry (What's happening to you)~. It demonstrates Blink-182's skill at crafting catchy emotional punk songs with pop sensibilities and loads of conviction.

"Dude Ranch" is the Blink -182 album I'd recommend for anyone whose curious about the band and is my favourite of their catalogue. The growth as songwriters in the 3 years between this one and "Cheshire Cat" is incredible and the band carved out their own niche in the modern punk arena. The songs are catchy and memorable, the lyrics are fun, sincere and poetic in their youthful relevance. This is a pop infused punk album for those who don't like pop infused punk albums.

Up next is Blink-182's "Enema Of The State"