Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Album Review: Gold Tops, by The Bootheel

July 15, 2009

Picture2Consider this one of those rare occasions when a band’s description of itself actually fits. Most bands are prone to hyperbole when it comes to bio details, and that’s putting it mildly. Not so The Bootheel, which attaches the appropriately compact tag “aggressively Midwestern” to its sound. On its debut EP, Gold Tops, the group combines elements of country, rock, punk and roots music to craft a sound that’s tough, simple and swells with an underlying emotional intensity. Oh, and aggression. Plenty of that, too.

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Album Review: The Nova Heat, by The Nova Heat

July 10, 2009

novaheatIt took three years and who-knows-how-many band lineups to complete, but The Nova Heat doesn’t sound like an album one could rush to make, anyway. Really, it’s not one you can even rush through listening to. The sublime joy is in sitting down with nothing else around you but headphones on your head and trying to catch the little details. They’re everywhere.

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Album Review: Shelter For My Enemy, by Assembly Line Gods

July 9, 2009

AssemblyLineGods_SFMESounding like a cross between early Tool and Dirt-era Alice In Chains, Assembly Line Gods go for dark menace mixed with a hint of the demonic from the outset of Shelter For My Enemy. “The Devil always wins,” singer David Samples snarls over his bandmates’ punctuated, chug-and-thump instrumentation on “Liberty Bell.” He’s referring to himself, by the way, and though you may not buy into the notion on this first track on the four-song EP, by the end it’s hard not to wonder.

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Album Review: Blood On James River, by Holstein

June 25, 2009

BOJRAlright, so maybe it was a little unrealistic to hope that Blood On James River would be a happier record than Holstein‘s previous work, The Big Black Clouds EP. Blood is really an expansion on the established vibe, literally and figuratively. Two of the previous album’s songs–“Big Black Clouds” and “Complications”–return for use here, and they’re surrounded by 11 more snippets of angst and woe. Two albums in, we can honestly say angry and indignant appears to be Holstein’s thing, and the band is pretty good at it.

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Album Review: A Brief Treatise on Land Ownership Vol. 1, by The Short Histories of Powerful Nations

June 18, 2009

CD101_out [Converted]Say what you will about the sheer long-windedness of the band’s name and album title; The Short Histories of Powerful Nations have a lot on their minds and, frankly, aren’t interested in pleasing the masses. A Brief Treatise On Land Ownership Vol. 1 is hard rock as high art, a three-song revisionist history lesson not afraid to point fingers or blow speakers. Doc Brown is taking you on a metaphorical DeLorean ride through the muck of greed and failure, and you had better have your five-point harness strapped tightly.

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Album Review: Black Lungs & Bitter Tongues, by Iseah

June 12, 2009

Iseah- Black Lungs & Bitter TonguesIseah‘s EP Black Lungs & Bitter Tongues brings an intensity so unusually sharp it should come with a warning label of some kind. Perhaps Do not listen to unless other modern hard-rock bands bore you would be appropriate. In a genre that has become the new least-common-denominator form of rock music–let’s face it, it’s easier to scream than sing and easier to look cool playing guitars in drop chords–Iseah distinguishes itself by being a band that plays with genuine ability–and genuine aggression. Without intending to resort to rock cliche, every instrument sounds weapon-like.

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Album Review: Things Change, by Josh Heinrichs

June 4, 2009

Things Change album coverGiven the events of recent months, calling Josh Heinrichs‘ album Things Change seems like wrapping six songs around an understatement. First there was the split with his band, the local reggae powerhouse Jah Roots, and the surprising cutting of his signature dreadlocks soon after. Whether planned or coincidental in their timing, breaks with the past seemed to be all around. The inevitable question surfaced: How would it affect the music?

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Album Review: Welcome Home, by Storyline

June 2, 2009

storyline_cd-cover

Though it’s really only 50% new–three tracks appeared on the band’s previously distributed demo–Welcome Home is a, ahem, welcome step forward for Storyline, and further proof that the band is not One Star Story Mach II.

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Album Review: Under the Yellow Moon, by John Henry & the Engine

May 23, 2009

John Henry & The EngineJohn Henry isn’t the first artist to draw considerable inspiration from Bruce Springsteen, but he’s the first artist we can think of–especially one who plays around Springfield regularly–to draw from the less anthemic parts of The Boss’s catalog. Right away “Lightning City Blues” kicks things off with the sparse, slightly eerie feel of a plugged-in Nebraska outtake. “Sweetness Wind” draws unavoidable parallels, too, in this case to songs from Darkness On the Edge of Town. The late-’50s-prom vibe of “Leave a Light On For Me” would be quite at home on The River. Henry has the young Springsteen’s breathy singing style and inflections down, too, complete with a hint of echo in the recording. Nice touch. 

What helps John Henry & The Engine differ most from Springsteen on Under the Yellow Moon is that, while both Henry and Springsteen want to evoke the feel of the rock ‘n’ roll songs of the late ’50s and early ’60s, Henry seems to show a stronger desire to stay faithful to the source material. While Springsteen made sweeping, dynamic rock only hinting at, or tangential to, the pre-pop rock ‘n’ roll that inspired him, Henry roots his work directly in a mixture of blues, doo-wop and flourishes of rockabilly. You may not pump your fist and shout the choruses, but that’s not really the goal. Much like his famous influence, Henry makes music to reach through the speakers and make you feel alive–with all the happiness, sadness and longing that often involves. As an album full of such music, Under the Yellow Moon carries a power of its own–one that doesn’t need a saxophone solo, thank you very much.

The FourFour Show solves the modern mystery of Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin this week

May 1, 2009

Warning: This video may not be suitable for some surfers. Some may deem it not safe for work, others may really like it. At any rate, you’ve been warned.

Note: For highest quality viewing, click “HQ” button on the youtube toolbar.

Ladies and Gentleman, thefourfour.com is proud to present the eighth episode of The FourFour Show with Kurtzender. This is also a special episode because it features a yet-to-be released new song (sans vocals) from SSLYBY. So, sit back, relax, and turn that noggin into mush with us. 

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Album Review: Deal With It, by A Fond Farewell

April 10, 2009

a-fond-farewellA Fond Farewell‘s Deal With It is a pop record for people who appreciate Fountains Of Wayne’s approach to poppiness: clever, catchy and vaguely reminiscent in song style while avoiding mainstream-radio sheen. They write hooky songs without telegraphing the hooks for you before you hear them. It’s more indie-rock “Sink to the Bottom” than “Stacy’s Mom” in approach, which keeps it listenable on repeat. Good call, A Fond Farewell.

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Album Review: Big Outside, by The Seed

April 3, 2009

seedbigoutsideProps to The Seed for releasing the nastiest (in a good way), funkiest, most groove-laden album of 2009 to date. Seriously. Big Outside absolutely jams, and we don’t say that glibly.

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Album Review: Isn’t It Grand, by Dirty Old Towne

March 17, 2009

dotAt first listen it’s easy for one to think that Dirty Old Towne is taking more than a few pages from the books of famous contemporaries such as Flogging Molly or, to a lesser degree, Dropkick Murphys. The truth is the group forges a very different niche while evoking thoughts of those bands with its sound.

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Album Review: Howdy, by The Cropdusters

February 6, 2009

Can it really be a coincidence that Howdy has six songs on it? Beer is sold in packs of six and multiples thereof, and The Cropdusters‘ new album is a good night of drinking waiting to happen. Following in the footsteps of its Red Dirt and alt-country mentors, The Cropdusters made an album that embraces all the conventions at the heart of country’s rootsy soul.

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Album Review: Chorus of the Commoners, by The Queen City Saints

January 21, 2009

qcs-coverThe “three chords, two minutes, no bullshit” approach to punk rock may live forever, but it died a long time ago for The Queen City Saints. Like others in the punk genre such as Black Flag (metal), Social Distortion (rockabilly and ’50s rock) and Green Day (pop… there, we said it), QCS incorporates other styles to broaden its palette. Their ingredient of choice is Americana and folk, and they wield it well on songs such as “Swing the Hammer”and “Same Tired Words.” Harmonica in a punk song? Indeed it is. “Oh, The Con of the Century” swings the musical pendulum completely to the bluegrass side, banjo and all, without ever feeling less punk for it.

What QCS has also cultivated, if more on the sly, is an Against Me!-esque love for shout-along choruses, which make Chorus of the Commoners the rallying point its lyrics intend it to be.

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