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Thirteen tracks of metal, extra heavy, with some soul on the side. That’s how you can describe Mastodon’s long-anticipated sonic descendant to Crack the Skye. Constantly pushing forward, with the Hunter, Mastodon ditched the concept album model that has worked so well for them previously, like a snake shedding its skin and angled off into new musical territory. The result is a much appreciated evolution in sound, complete with more palatable song lengths, lyrics whittled down to the essential essences that evoke emotion and surge with force and direction, anthem-type choruses and melodic chords that tease the untrained ear into believing that Mastodon is aiming to go pop, but to the seasoned veteran it’s a sign of developing maturity in their craft. Could this be due to Mike Elizondo, who has handled production duties for Eminem or is it due to road work with Alice in Chains? Who cares? It’s Mastodon, the Hunter, the drums are vacuum seal tight, the songs stand alone and the music speaks for itself.
Jay-Z said it best, “You want my old music, buy my old album”. The Black Keys, the more you bang them, the better they get. This release, “El Camino” is just another welcome stop on the road for Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney before they either arrive at the Rock Hall of Fame or simply bypass it altogether and become Gods of Rock for the generations that come after them. From the start with, “Lonely Boy” to the finish with “Mind Eraser,” El Camino is a hearty and enjoyable effort packed with very danceable melodies, thunderous drums and rhythms that rock with life and feeling. The Black Keys El Camino
Franz Ferdinand kicks so much ass, they need more feet! The groups newest release, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, is the without a doubt one of the best releases in the last year musically and is starting 2009 with a bar raising submission that other bands may only hope to reach. Some of the reviews on Amazon call out Franz Ferdinand on going pop, while others love the direction the band is going in. I think the complainers are the ones who only want the band to themselves and see the growth and expansion of the bands music as a direct assault on their snobbery. That is too bad for them.
The release starts with a kicker in Ulysses and from there it is a wild ride. Franz steps on the gas with the Ulysses and does not let up until track number 5, Twilight Omens, which is a subtle mood change and softer than the previous tracks. Tonight picks back up with track 6, Bite Hard and from there Franz Ferdinand starts to go into newer territory, but the coolness of the vocals and the funky, moody, danceable instrumentation works to a pleasant surprise.
Even though I can practically play Tonight: Franz Ferdinand from end to end, hot tracks for me include Ulysses, Turn It On, No You Girls, Bite Hard and What She Came For. Honorable mention goes to Lucid Dreams, because I’ll be damned if that baseline doesn’t thump like some old school late 70’s early 80’s funk before it collapses into an indescribable collage of electric sounds.
Hear the thunderous sounds of Led Zeppelin on iTunes for the first time ever. The complete Led Zeppelin collection, ($99) 13 albums, 165 tracks of pure rock, remastered to perfection.