Album Reviews – 26/10/09

Wolfmother - Cosmic Egg

Wolfmother / Cosmic Egg / Universal

star-rating-4

What a genius album title. Cosmic Egg, like the cosmic egg theory about the state of the universe before the big bang, very intellectual. Of course, that’s not why it’s the album’s name. Singer Andrew Stockdale told NME that he named the album after a yoga position. The band’s charming frantic explosions are still present on the lead single “New Moon Rising”, “Pilgrim” and others, but also present are some welcome surprises. “White Feather” hints at laid back Southern Rock. Stockdale does his best to seduce the listener on the title track, and on the groovy “Cosmonaut.” And “10, 000 Feet,” with its ominous string section and chugging second verse, might be the most epic they’ve ever sounded. With Cosmic Egg, Stockdale proves the departure of former members Chris Ross and Myles Heskettt did not equal a departure of quality songwriting, or of Wolfmother from the charts.

Download: “White Feather”, “Cosmic Egg”

 

Jack Johnson - En Concert

Jack Johnson / En Concert / Universal

star rating - 4.5

The real story with the latest album by singer/guitarist/surfer Jack Johnson is the tour he embarked on to record it. For En Concert, Johnson traveled the world, and the album accordingly features cuts recorded at a wide array of massive concerts from all over including Bonnaroo in Tennessee, Red Rocks at Morrisson, Colorado, Barcelona, Spain, and one – the track “Home” – from his homestate in Hawaii. Eddie Vedder lends vocals for “Constellations” during Johnson’s Bonnaroo set. He sings “Banana Pancakes” en francais live in Paris. But, wherever he is in the world, Johnson brings the same peaceful glee to the mass crowds gathered to soak up his trademark soulful optimism. Such an interesting phenomena, the hippy guitar slinger hopes, that fans who missed these love-ins will shell out extra cash to get their hands on the CD/DVD release of En Concert to see the tour documentary and experience visually what the album offers sonically. Of course, Johnson’s interest in the retail success of En Concert isn’t greed – far from it, in fact, 100% of the profits he made from that, his largest tour to date, and profits from this release will fund the Kokua Hawaii Foundation and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation which support environmental, art, and music education around the world.

Download: “Constellations – Manchester, TN”, “Bubble Toes, Express Yourself – San Francisco, CA”
 

Protest The Hero - Gallop Meets The Earth

Protest The Hero / Gallop Meets The Earth / Universal

star-rating-4

Recorded during a cold wintery night in Toronto, Gallop Meets the Earth represents Protest the Hero’s first live album. Featuring songs off of the band’s two full lengths, Kezia and Fortress, the band does almost as impressive a job of bringing its bloody progressive metal to life on stage as they do putting it on an album. The one occasionally sour note is the singing from vocalist Rody Walker. His menacing metal bark is flawless but, quite understandably, some of his more angelic highs get fudged during the 11 song set. Walker makes up for this with some humorous (and adult-oriented) between-song banter that makes sticking around for the ends of songs all the more worthwhile. The rest of the band, particularly their diminutive bassist Arif, brings as tight and furious an onslaught as the battles waged in the lyrics of Protest’s songs. Sadly, the breathtaking keyboard solo performed by Vadim Pruzhanov of Dragonforce is missing from the band’s encore performance of “Limb From Limb,” but stay tuned for the closing seconds of “Palms Read” when they play an impromptu version of the theme from Jurassic Park.

Download: “Bloodmeat”, “Palms Read”
 

Atreyu - Congregation Of The Damned

Atreyu / Congregation Of The Damned / Universal

Star Rating 3

Turning to all star producer Bob Marlette (Ozzy Osbourne) and mixer Rich Costey (The Mars Volta, Rage Against The Machine), Atreyu hoped to have their fifth album sound like a return to their heavier and harder days of old. While some appropriately named tracks (“Ravenous” and “Bleeding is a Luxury”) maintain a scent of the raw ‘metalcore’ sound the band still hangs onto as a descriptor, these songs are merely tokens used in an attempt to please old fans. Expect “Coffin Nails” and “So Wrong” to turn up soon on soundtracks to one of the many vampire films or network vampire dramas. Oh wait, they already have been featured on the soundtrack for Underworld? Maybe not all that much has changed after all. At any rate, these were not songs meant to be played in packed clubs, or even gothic-adorned theatres. You can practically see Alex Varkatzas doing tight-jeaned lunges propped up on his stage monitors while his band mates’ rocking gets projected on massive screens fifty feet above them. All very bad ass, true, but the fact is this after Congregation of the Damned, any Atreyu concert will bring with it an incredible pack of kids that are just wild about Edward and Bella.

Download: “Bleeding is a Luxury”, “Ravenous”

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