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Monthly Archives: March 2010

Karnivool - Sound Awake

album- Sound Awake

140 Characters:
Karnivool is dark melodic prog rock- often soaring, powerful and unpredictable. And always desperate and haunting.

140 Words:
Karnivool’s music is dark melodic prog rock, often soaring, powerful, and unpredictable, so it took me a few listens for it to really sink in.

Don’t be fooled by the veneer of production, since over time the slinky bass lines and great guitar work emerge. And the vocals become more desperate and the melodies more haunting. This is a well-executed record.

Karnivool isn’t really a “metal” band the same way A Perfect Circle isn’t really a metal band- they use restraint when they play and no one in the band oversteps their role. And they’re not a typical contemporary rock band in the sense they don’t sound like “brown-rock,” which is what I call post-grunge bands (playing in Drop-D tuning) that are overplayed on rock radio. Thank God.

Highlights: “Simple Boy” and “New Day.”

I hear Karnivool/
It’s desperate and haunting/


Ghosts & Lightning - Trevor Byrne

Ghosts & Lightning – Trevor Byrne

140 Characters:
Ghosts & Lightning- rambling, restless and rambunctious- has struck at the jugular of the coming-of-age generation.

140 Words:
Trevor Byrne’s first novel is drug and alcohol riddled, and more character-driven than plot-driven. It’s a rambling, restless and rambunctious story about a protagonist man-child’s failed attempt to break from his Irish home, and how his mother’s death brought him (Denny) back to a family that employs interesting coping mechanisms: alcohol and drugs, seances, fist-fights, and curious business dealings.

Ireland is changing faster than Denny’s small world. And like his main character’s situation and increasing desire to move on, it’s only a matter of time before Byrne too breaks out (as a writer). Byrne has the skill to make the mundane interesting, and when the bigger story finds him, he’s going to be a monster.

Great tone, great dialogue, and void of cliches, G&L has struck at the jugular of the coming-of-age generation.

Take Ghosts & Lightning/
Trevor Byrne’s novel of youth/
Read with a pint of Ale

Things that keep you up/
Parties, fights, ghosts and lightning/
Loves of Trevor Byrne

Crash Kings

Crash Kings
Self-titled album

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Crash Kings are a guitar band without a guitar, pounding out pop songs and making more noise than a keyboard-based 3-piece should.

140 Words:
Crash Kings make pop songs with piano/keyboard as the dominant instrument, but what sets them apart from artists like Ben Folds or Keane (and with songs like like “It’s Only Wednesday,” “Non-Believer,” and “Come Away” one could group CK with them) is just how much noise they can make.

And this is when they are the most fun, pounding out tracks like “Mountain Man,” “You Got Me,” and “14 Guns” -where singer/keyboardist Antonio yells, “We’re just a speck! Let’s give them what they least expect!” And so they do.

With interesting keyboard tricks and distorted bass, you wouldn’t know this band plays without guitar. I’d bet for half the album most listeners wouldn’t notice, either.

They sound fun live. I’m going to try to see them at SXSW in Austin next week.

Crash Kings. Guitar band/
Pounding out radio songs/
Without the guitar

Paper Zoo
self-titled EP

140 Characters:
Paper Zoo’s EP is a rock carnival on acid, performed by anachronistic teenagers seemingly delivered here straight from the 70’s.

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Paper Zoo’s debut EP is a rock carnival on acid, performed by anachronistic teenagers seemingly delivered here straight from the 70’s. Dynamic and epic, they deliver the songs as if they were twice their age. Although heavy, they aren’t afraid of melody, and where other young bands stray into candy-coated hooks, Paper Zoo restrain themselves to hooks Pink Floyd would be proud of.

They may be Bigelf proteges, but Paper Zoo are no Bigelf wannabes. They mix in as many Beatles circus tricks as guitar hero riffs.

Stand out tracks:
Title track “Paper Zoo,” where singer Allister implores, “Join us, we are the Paper Zoo.”
And, “Laughing Legba,” which gives keyboardist Martin a bit of prominence- it’s twisted and deceptively catchy.

Like any good EP, Paper Zoo is too short. Five songs.

Although they are young/
Paper Zoo delivers songs/
as if twice their age

Paper Zoo’s EP/
Is deceptively catchy/
Dynamic, twisted

Orphaned Land - Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR

Orphaned Land – The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR

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Orphaned Land has breathed new life into metal with their duality of light vs dark, East vs West, old vs new, good vs evil.

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The new Orphaned Land is the most interesting metal record I’ve heard in a couple years. And that’s no shot at their previous releases- this is only their third since ’96, and first since ’04.

Simply, it’s a series of incredible contradictions that fully work in concert.

Dark vs light. Ugliness vs beauty. East vs West. Strength vs vulnerability. Heavy vs melodic. Old World vs modernity. Distorted vs clean. Loud vs acoustic. Anger vs compassion. Guttural vs symphonic. Simplicity vs complexity. Good vs evil. Death vs Life.

More spiritual than Opeth. More diverse than Virgin Black. More classical than Sepultura. More organic than Cradle of Filth. Mixed by Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree/Opeth), I’ve heard the album described as Israeli progressive folk metal. Now, that’s a niche.

Highlights: Sapari, The Path Part 1: Treading Through Darkness

The new Orphaned Land/
Is filled with contradictions/
Which work really well