Thursday, March 31, 2011

Green Day - Awesome As F**k Review

Green Day are probably one of the most iconic alternative bands around today. Their releases over the past decade have been monumental in terms of musical power and merchandising alike. But perhaps their greatest quality is their live show. Packed with energy, pyrotechnics and a hint of humor, a Green Day show is a sight to see... and hear.

If you've never seen the three-piece live, or are just seriously missing the chaos of the live show, then the band's new CD/DVD combo, Awesome As F**k, will scratch your itch.

The live CD is a 17 track listen through some of the best Green Day have to offer. It begins with three of their newer songs, "21st Century Breakdown", "Know Your Enemy" and "East Jesus Nowhere", before opening up into a solid mix of old school classics and previously unreleased tracks.

You'll hear "Cigarettes And Valentines" from Phoenix, AZ; "Burnout" from Irvine, CA and "Going To Pasalacqua" from Chula Vista, CA. In fact, all tracks on the live CD were recorded from shows around the globe in both 2009 and 2010. This makes for a more in depth track listing/set than that which was featured on the band's 2005 live CD/DVD combo, Bullet In a Bible (which was recorded from two shows at Milton Keynes in England).

The rest of Awesome is filled with a few classics both new and old. Songs like, "Minority" and "Longview" were put to the side to make room for "21 Guns" and "When I Come Around" - tracks that weren't in Green Day's live repertoire during their American Idiot tours.

In addition to the 17 tracks, iTunes offers three more live songs for download. Tracks include, "Letterbomb" from Chula Vista, CA; "Christie Road" from Hartford, CT and "Paper Lanterns/2,000 Light Years Away" from Alpharetta, GA.

If that wasn't impressive enough, then the live DVD will certainly blow your mind. The 17 song set, filmed in Japan, truly shows the energy and showmanship Green Day bring to the table. You'll find yourself getting swept up in the show - singing "hey-oh!" with the thousands of fans there that night.

Awesome's DVD will deliver the visual element that really sums up Green Day. From the hail of sparks raining down during "21 Guns" to the nine-minute rock showcase that is "Jesus Of Suburbia", Green Day's true power as a band shines.

And as a bonus you'll get a video performance of "Cigarettes And Valentines" just to round things out. With over an hour of live footage, the DVD will bring a full Green Day performance into your living room - sweat, emotion and eyeliner included.

As one of our correspondents noted, Awesome As F**k needs no description. It's all in the title. If all that live music doesn't put a smile on your face, you're not punk-rock. Fact.

**Special thanks to our correspondent T.B. for help with this posting**

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rise Against - Endgame Review

Rise Against have always been known for their outspoken demeanor and progressive beliefs. So when it came time to release Endgame, the band's sixth studio album, fans and critics alike expected a record that would bring to the table both the band's musical talent and political message.

And Rise Against do not disappoint. Endgame stands as probably their most powerful record to date.

Musically, the album is driven by distorted guitars and a deep, but always present, bass. In other words, Endgame sounds exactly like the music Rise Against fans are used to. The Chicago outfit's deep hardcore roots naturally shine through, but the record never loses its catchiness.

The album is jam packed with hooks throughout the many soaring choruses. Endgame never takes the time to slow down. Every song has a fast paced, in-your-face, type of rhythm to it. On a whole, the record rounds out nicely between the screams and melodies.

But perhaps the most important and driving factor of Endgame isn't exactly the music, but rather the lyrical content. Making their mark as one of the scene's leading politically influenced bands, it was a given that Rise Against would once again put out a record that challenges government ideals and the like.

But Endgame doesn't just take the path of changing a political ideology. The record is more of a cry for social change in the United States. While the track listing includes titles like, "Survivor Guilt" and "Architects" that undoubtedly take a political stance, it's the other tracks that bring to light some of the darkest and most damning qualities present in America today.

Take for instance "Make It Stop (September's Children)" - a scathing attack on the bullying and teen suicide stories of 2010. Behind a chorus of children, lead singer Tim McIlrath recants the names and ages of a few teens who took their own lives last year due to bullying.

The record's first single, "Help Is On The Way", walks the listener through many of the disasters that have plagued the southeastern region of the US in recent years, including the Gulf oil spill and New Orleans Katrina disaster. In a way, the track acts as a retelling of the stories through the eyes of those with firsthand accounts.

The integrity of this record really does lie within its message. Each one of the 12 tracks tackles another issue with enough energy and emotion to really get you thinking. Endgame is a mosaic of sorts - each individual song representing its own social ill, but when taken as a whole, presents itself as a glaring view of a much bigger problem.

But, as with any Rise Against record, a glimmer of hope remains present. There's always a sense that better days are ahead if a little hard work is put in to correcting our problems. Overall, Endgame is as punk-rock as punk-rock gets. Fast, loud and in-your-face with a message, Rise Against have perfected their craft with this release.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Musicians Help in Japan's Relief Efforts

In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last week, many artists back stateside are doing what they can, through their music, to help raise money for the relief efforts.

Probably the most notable of all the contributors is blink-182's Mark Hoppus who took to the internet almost immediately after the events to help raise some dough. On March 11, the day America first learned of the disaster a world away, Hoppus posted the following on his Facebook page:

"Auctioning off a bunch of collectible blink-182 items to benefit the American Red Cross in their effort to assist with the disaster relief in Japan. All proceeds will be donated."

In the week since the events, Hoppus has posted six (6) items to his eBay account. The collectibles offered include an original lyrics sheets from "The Rock Show", a blink-182 all access pass from their 2009 tour, Hoppus' own orange shirt he wore in the "Dammit" video and an original "What's My Age Again" promotional CD - amongst other things.

What's even more impressive is that Hoppus has vowed to sign each item with a personal message to the buyer. The goods he has listed sort of chronicle the history of blink, and will certainly be some of the rarest pieces of rock 'n' roll memorabilia out there.

While this article was being written, bid totals on all of Hoppus' current items hovered in the $30,000 range. Add that to the blink magnets and stickers already sold, and it's clear that a good chunk of money will be donated.

But blink-182 aren't the only band getting involved. Joining the eBay/Red Cross cause is Bad Religion, who are auctioning off an autographed cymbal, as well.

While this all sounds really cool, chances are that most rock 'n' roll fans don't have $20,000 to drop on four pieces of paper with lyrics scribbled on them, or another $2,000 on a promotional CD with one song on it. No worries. For those of you that still want to support the cause and grab something music related, look no further than Vs. The Earthquake - a 22-track compilation CD featuring some of the best bands in the alternative rock scene today.

Included on the track listing are The Wonder Years, Valencia, The Swellers, Transit, Such Gold and more. Just about every song featured is either a cover, live recording or an acoustic track - making the record a truly unique collection of music. And the best part is that CDs are available for just $5, with all proceeds also going to relief efforts.

So what more could you ask for? After all, making a donation is great, but making a donation and scoring some music swag is even better.

**UPDATE** Circa Survive are also auctioning off vinyl test pressings of each one of their records. All proceeds will be donated to aide the relief efforts, as well. You can bid HERE.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Patrick Stump - Truant Wave Review

Patrick Stump may be most well known for his role as Fall Out Boy's slightly pudgy pop-punk vocalist, but the 26-year-old won't be letting that define his career as a musician. Since FOB's split, Stump has not only shed the pounds, long hair and hats, but has also turned his music in a whole new direction.

Late last month, Stump released, Truant Wave, his six-song solo EP via iTunes. The R&B infused record is loaded with new material that stands as both a progression from where FOB left off, and something many fans thought they would never hear.

Truant Wave opens with a quick synth beat that is more like something you'd expect to hear in a club than on the ex-punk's first solo release. There's even a whole verse that's rapped by guest artist, Alph-A-Bit. But that track certainly doesn't set the tone for the rest of the record.

Track two, "Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)", gives hope that the Stump we all grew to love is still alive and well. It's one of two versions the artist first made available for the public to vote on a few months back. Regardless if it's the one you chose, the track stands as probably the strongest on the EP. It's uplifting lyrically and exhibits Stump's vocal talents through soaring highs and a FOB-esque bridge that will stay stuck in your head for days.

And while some of what Truant Wave offers may sound slightly like some of FOB's most experimental work, Stump is quick to point out that his new music, along with his band mate's new tunes (Black Cards, The Damned Things) has no place in the FOB empire. In an interview with The Gunz Show, Stump explained this by saying, "We were also, like, we shouldn't do either of these things with Fall Out Boy."

So naturally, Stump took his liberties when creating this EP. It incorporates the R&B side mentioned earlier, swings hard to the left on "Cute Girls" which sounds more like a Michael Jackson b-side than anything any self-conscious punk would admit to listening to, and then rounds off nicely with "Love, Selfish Love" which could actually could fit in on FOB's 2008 release, Folie A Deux.

Lyrically, it's the strongest on the album. "This is me confessing, / God bless the sad and selfish. / Stay helpless." Not bad considering Stump didn't have famed bassist Pete Wentz behind the pen and pad for this record. That's also the reason this album is a little more upbeat than what most FOB fans are used to.

And while Stump may have gone a different direction from his roots in the punk scene, he didn't lose touch with the scene entirely. He enlisted in the help of ex-Taking Back Sunday bassist, Matt Rubano for some work on various parts of the album, proving that while this music might be a long shot from anything "Grand Theft Autumn" related, Stump hasn't turned his back on his fans.

And for those who thought Stump had a full length release in his agenda, it's also important to note that that album, Soul Punk, is still scheduled for release at some point later in the year.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring Tours 2011

It may only be March, but we've already brought you a number of reviews on great albums released this year, and a look toward a whole slew of records that are set to make waves in the scene during the coming months. But hype isn't the only thing surrounding all this new music. With fresh tunes always come fresh tours. So check out our list of can't miss tours happening this spring.

April 22 - May 28
Hot off last week's release of their new album, Killing Time, Bayside will be heading back stateside (they're in Australia now) to co-headline the Take Action Tour. They're heading out with Silverstein, Polar Bear Club, The Swellers and Texas In July. With a lineup like this, tickets will be going fast. So be sure to secure your spot right away.

March 17, April 27 - May 1
Short but sweet. According to lead singer Matt Skiba, the trio have just finished recording their new record and are hitting the road for a quick little tour. They'll be playing alongside Biffy Clyro and An Horse for a series of club shows along the East Coast.

April 5 - May 14
Rise Against's new album, Endgame, will be hitting stores March 15, and the Chicago outfit will be supporting the record with a full US tour ready to kick off at the start of next month. In what's probably the biggest tour of the spring in terms of big names on the bill, Rise Against are bringing along Four Year Strong and Bad Religion. The Descendents are even scheduled to play the April 7 date in Long Beach, California.

March 18 - May 6
Having just released their self-titled debut album last week (which sold 14,000 copies), D.R.U.G.S. will be hitting the road for only their second US tour. Joining them for the tour, sponsored by Alternative Press, will be Black Veil Brides, I See Stars, VersaEmerge and Conditions. There's no doubt that this tour will
stands as the most eclectic of any tour this spring, and worth going to check out.

April 8, April 27 - May 1
Details about a full US tour are still under lock and key, but Taking Back Sunday have announced a few exclusive shows for this spring including an appearance at Bamboozle. They will be joined by a number of other bands for all club dates including Circa Survive, Gatsbys American Dream, Primitive Weapons and Jack's Mannequin. The band are also scheduled to release a new record sometime this year.


Other tours of note this spring include:

Manchester Orchestra - 4/30 - 6/2
Hawthorne Heights & Handguns - 3/31 - 4/30
Brand New - 4/26 - 4/30
The Wonder Years - 4/8 - 4/21
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