A Music Review of “A Thousand Suns” by Linkin Park…

A Thousand Suns by Linkin Park

Warner Bros Records 2010

After three years and following the success of their album “Minutes to Midnight,” Linkin Park is back with probably their greatest effort to date, A Thousand Suns.

In the CD booklet for the album the band talks about the time spent making the album, all of the trials and tribulations that occurred within the process, and how they deciphered whether to take the creative leap and release an album that they really wanted to do, although may not come quite as expected from their fans or the media.

While I am definitely a fan of the bands music, I am not a die-hard like some. I really enjoy all of their work they have done, and especially the last album “Minutes to Midnight.” I was especially eager to hear this album because it was creating quite the buzz around the release and I was curious to hear myself what they came up with this time around.

The album consisting of 15 tracks, starting out with two tracks being of instrumental nature. Right away I said to myself, “This is a little different for them”. Track three “Burning in the Skies” starts things off well and almost takes you back to where they have left off with Midnight. The great thing is the overall balance of this record. They have some great songs like “Robot Boy”, “Wisdom Justice And Love”, and “The Messenger” which reflect a softer and more emotional side of the band; whereas songs such as “Empty Spaces”, “When They Come For Me”, and “Waiting For The End”, which are geared more to the Linkin Park we are used too. 

“The Messenger” without a doubt has to be their finest moment on the release for me. When an artist can do a simple song with just vocals and acoustic guitar, and have it stand out as strong as it does, that says a lot about not only the song, but the talent of the artist as well.

I for one am glad that Linkin Park, though perhaps having their doubts, released this album. It reflects a whole new creative element of the band, and shows one that sometimes taking a creative risk can be a good thing. For me this album really isn’t that much of a departure for the band, but more of a great continuation of their work from the last album. Perhaps some of their die-hard fans will like it, and perhaps some not, but with any artist, they all grow and change throughout the years and people either like the change or don’t care for it.
I think within the last album, and this one also, the band has continued to grow musically and obtain a larger and more diverse following than they did in the past, and that is definitely not a bad thing at all.

I give the guys great kudos on this release and am glad I went out and picked it up right away.

I give it THREE and a HALF Stars out of FIVE!!

-Warren

A Music Review of “Hurley” by Weezer…

Hurley by Weezer

Epitaph Records

“If  you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread as I walk away.” Who can forget the memorable line from the first single off their debut album in 1994; both witty and catchy, and not your typical song lyric.

I have been a  fan of Weezer since their debut release in 1994. I have always enjoyed their blend of rock and pop, their catchy melodies and fun lyrics. They are one of those bands, where you hear the songs, and years later they are still a lot of fun and make you feel good when you hear them. The band has done a good job with delivering the same fun and catchy songs for over a 15 year period, which in itself is impressive.

Less than a year after their last release of “Raditude” the band is back with another album Hurley. The cover is nothing more than a picture of Jorge Garcia aka “Hurley” from the show “Lost”. A definite twist for the band which normally has a picture of the band on the cover, including a bright color background. For me the cover art represents the album well, as being a little different or off. The songs on the album just are not very catchy or memorable, and definitely lack a spark that their older material has. I had read that the band was trying to get back to the basics with this album, and trying to go for the sound of the debut release and “Pinkerton”. While it seems like the sound is similar to their older material, the songs on this effort definitely lack the strength that they have always had in their music.

Their first single for the album “Memories” is a fun song which recalls living in the days of the 90’s. It is somewhat catchy and has a definite older Weezer vibe to it. Other songs such as “Trainwrecks”, “Hang On”, and “Smart Girls”, somewhat have the same quality but again the spark is missing from this new material. The album comes in a standard and deluxe version. The deluxe includes four extra tracks including a cover of “Viva La Vida.” While the extra four tracks are not bad, I don’t know that it is worth spending the extra few bucks for them.

This release is also the first album on Epitaph, their new label, after parting ways with DGC, which the band has been with since the beginning of their career. I am not sure if this has something to do with the change in their style or not, but I am sure it plays some part.

Unfortunately I have to say that this is probably going to be my least favorite release from the band. It just doesn’t do a whole lot for me for several reasons. The songs are not very catchy, the melodies very basic and somewhat boring, and lyrical content is not as good as we have previously seen from Rivers and crew. I was a big fan of their last release “Raditude” for fact that they had the same catchy and fun songs we are used to from the band, but also changed things up by adding some new styles to their music in some of the songs.

I will be very curious to see how this album does compared to their most recent efforts. Perhaps it will grow on me the more I listen to it, but so far a not very strong release in my opinion. I will also be curious to hear what other fans think of the new album, and the press as well.

Sorry Weezer, but I am going to have to give it 2 out of 5 Stars.

-Warren

A Music Review of “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry…

Katy Perry

Capital Records

It is hard to believe that just two years ago, Katy Perry first graced us with her presence with her debut album “One of the Boys.” After receiving wide success from her first single off the album,  “I Kissed a Girl”; she continued to do well with with the other single releases as well, and quickly began to establish herself in the industry as a very talented and rising star.

The summer of 2010 marked the much welcomed return of the pop princess with more upbeat, fun, and catchy songs for us. Her first single off the album,”California Gurls” debuted in May of this year. The track  features Snoop Dogg, and is an insanely fun and catchy song that not only makes you want to get up and dance, but completely represented summertime in my opinion. The song quickly began to create a big buzz in the music scene and success continued to follow with her second single off the album “Teenage Dream.” I remember being totally blown away by how strong both of these new songs were. While I am a big fan of her debut release, and there were definitely some strong songs present; I was surprised by how much stronger and more catchy the new material was, and I eagerly awaited the release of the album Teenage Dream.

When I first heard Teenage Dream in it’s entirety I noticed that I almost instantly liked every song off the album. This was definitely not the case with her first effort. I also enjoyed the fact that the majority of the new album is more upbeat than her last one. While she does have some slower numbers on it such as “Not Like The Movies” and “Pearl” they are great songs, and very strong in their own right. At the same time, songs like “Last Friday Night (TGIF)”, “Peacock”, and “Hummingbird Heartbeat” have the same catchy vibe and strength we have come to love from her.

Working with the production duo of  Dr. Luke and Max Martin once again proved to be very beneficial for Katy. They did a great job with giving us the same fun and catchy songs we come to love and expect from the artist, but also a new flavor and feel to it as well. I can honestly say that Teenage Dream represents the soundtrack to the summertime, and I think many would agree with me on that.

For those of you like myself, who still enjoy buying the physical compact disc version of the album, the artwork not only comes with a brilliant essence from that of a candy shop, but the CD booklet is even cotton candy scented for a limited pressing. Something cool and different for people to appreciate in a non-digital copy of the album.

If you are looking for a really fun and energetic album that makes you feel good, I highly recommend Teenage Dream by Katy Perry. With summertime already drawing to an end, it will make you feel like summertime once again everytime you play it!

I give it FIVE out of FIVE Stars! Great job Katy and crew :)     

-Warren

A Music Review of “Scream” by Ozzy Osbourne…

Scream by Ozzy Osbourne

Sony/Epic Records

Many things come to mind when the name Ozzy Osbourne comes into play; whether it be his crazy antics of the past, his widely popular reality show “The Osbournes”, or his glory days with Black Sabbath. The man has continued to make music and influence others for over forty years now, which in itself is very impressive task at hand. Over his career he has brought us so many great songs, songs which are still loved and enjoyed to this day. Well the madman is back with a brand new album release titled Scream.

Probably the most exciting part of the new album is Ozzy has brought along a  new guitarist with him, and a new sound along with it. Ozzy parted ways with Zakk Wylde, who has played and recorded on his last 8 albums. This was a definite smart move on Ozzy’s part because while Zakk is an incredible guitarist in his own right, his style and techniques tend to be repeated quite a bit from one album to the next.
Ozzy, now working with Gus G, a very talented guitarist from Greece, has brought back a spark in his music again, that in my opinion was absent in his last few releases. One of the great things about Gus is he has a very melodic style to his playing, and this was something that Zakk definitely lacked while with Ozzy. When I first heard the first single off the album “Let Me Hear You Scream” I was blown away by not only the musicianship at hand, but how powerful and strong the song was. This is a feeling that certainly had been lacking from the last release or two.

Scream does a great job of taking a blend of Ozzy’s older style of music and adding a new element to it; this being important so that Ozzy pleases his long time followers, along with gaining new fans who enjoy the newer metal style. It definitely has to be one of Ozzy’s heavier sounding records as a whole. What I love most about it, is that while it is a heavy record, the melodic aspect is added back into it. For me songs like “Let Me Hear You Scream” and “Diggin Me Down” are perfect examples of this. “Life Won’t Wait” brings us another signature Ozzy power ballad, and “Soul Sucker” has a very new metal style too it. So overall Ozzy has something in there for everyone, old fans and new.

I will say that the entire album doesn’t have the same spark and strength of his first single “Let Me Hear You Scream,” but it is a good record as a whole and I found myself after a few listens liking it more and more. Ozzy now at the age of 62 is showing people he can still sing like a madman, make great songs, and also tour the world with Ozzfest! If you want a screaming record to turn up and blare in the car I definitely recommend Scream by Ozzy Osbourne. I would have to give it 3.5 out of 5 stars!

-Warren

A Music Review of Flesh Tone by Kelis…

A&M Records

The summer of 2010 has brought us some great new music, and also brought the return of Kelis. Kelis is probably most known for her hit “Milkshake” released in 2003. While Kelis is definitely known in the R&B music genre, she tends to find her strengths in the electronic/dance style. In fact her first two albums tended to be more electronic than R&B, and she did amazingly well on both efforts. Her latest efforts with Flesh Tone proves no different in my mind.

The best way to describe Flesh Tone would be that it is “one-non stop-amazing-club party” from start to finish. At first listen, the album almost comes across as a remix album with how the songs were arranged and put together. I found that the sound created for this album is not only amazing, but also matches the voice of Kelis perfectly. She worked with some great producers on this album: David Guetta, will.i.am, Alle & Benny Benassi, among others… While all of these artists have done some great work in the past, and very talented in their own right; their collaborations with Kelis have proved to be very successful. Songs like “Acapella” and “Home” prove just that with the blend of a great voice, emotional filled melodies, and energetic beats.

While I am a fan of all of Kelis’s work old and new, I have yet to like an album of hers from start to finish. Sure I have loved songs off previous albums, but there have been some songs included, that in my eyes didn’t come across very strong. Flesh Tone is a strong album as a whole, and definitely one of her strongest to date. Every track from the incredible “22nd Century”, “4th of July” to “Home” and “Acapella”, makes the listener crave for more.

I suppose one downfall to the album could be that because of the sound of it, one may feel each song sounds too similar to the previous one; However, I think the production team did a great job blending the songs together, and making them strong enough for the listener to not get bored while listening.

I would have to give Flesh Tone by Kelis 4 out of 5 stars! Its a fun, energetic, feel good album that makes you want to get out and hit the clubs, and dance the night away.

-Warren