Radio Moscow / Brain Cycles / Alive Records
The guys of Radio Moscow have a lot going for them. The blues-rock group shows off some impressive ballsy riffs that resemble funked up Jimmy Page and are sometimes on the verge of becoming Hendrixean. The drums, which usually reside comfortably in the background, make their presence known in “No Good Woman” during an over two-minute long drum solo that turns tribal for a few moments before calling the guitars back in for a suitably shred-happy finish. Sure, blues-rock bands ripping off Zeppelin are a dime-a-dozen, but the most fascinating thing about Brain Cycles is that frontman Parker Griggs single-handedly performs all guitar, drums, and vocals on the album. Griggs’ vocals are soulful and tastefully gritty, similar to contemporary blues outfit Black Keys. The only sounds on the album not created by Griggs come from bassist Zach Anderson who meshes perfectly with Griggs on tracks like “City Lights” and who holds down the rhythm as Griggs takes off on soaring leads as on the aforementioned “No Good Woman” and album-closing “No Jane.”
Download: “No Good Woman”, “No Jane”
As Cities Burn / Hell Or High Water / Tooth And Nail
As divergent as the sound of Hell or High Water might be for the formally metalcore As Cities Burn, a more fitting ‘D’ word for the album would be ‘derivative.’ The first couple tracks have sharp alternative rock guitar riffs and pensive lyrics to match, but after you get past the atmospheric “Into The Sea” the lyrics sort of dry up; “Too pretty” gets rhymed with “too petty” and “thought of her” gets rhymed with “daughter.” Chris Lott’s guitar ingenuity does a more than adequate job of propping up most songs – his solo at the end of the otherwise sleep inducing “Pirate Blues” is worth sticking around for. Anyone looking to listen to slow burning alternative Christian angst could do worse, but Hell or High Water is no The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me.
Download: “Errand Rum”, “Into The Sea”
Lacuna Coil / Shallow Life / EMI
I can appreciate that Lacuna Coil used to do what they do in Italian, but when it gets translated into English it just really sounds like Evanescence – or Linkin Park if they had a chick singer. On the track “I’m Not Afraid” male vocalist Andrea Ferro sounds more like Chester Bennington than that guy in Evanescence sounded like Mike Shinoda on “Bring Me To Life”. There’s nothing strictly wrong with Shallow Life; it’s all suitably heavy to take on tour with Ozzfest and it wouldn’t be surprising if some of these songs found their way onto the soundtracks of action movies later this year. Just don’t expect those movies to win any Oscars. They’ll probably be starring John Cena, Vin Diesel or Jason Statham. The star will be stranded in the desert, seemingly about to lose all hope, Lacuna Coil will start to play and he’ll be ready to kick some ass again. Cheesy and predictable. Just like Shallow Life.
Download: “I’m Not Afraid”, “Unchained”